HARRY KANE will be licking his lips at the thought of facing Senegal, thinking: ‘Hallelujah! This is where I break my duck at the World Cup.’
I’m certain there will be plenty of opportunities, particularly from set-plays, because, having studied our opponents, it’s quite clear that, while they are a group of very talented individuals, they are not a team.
If Kane and Harry Maguire make a nuisance of themselves at corners and free-kicks, they will get their rewards.
A third of all goals come from set-pieces and that’s never changed down the years.
It’s no different in the World Cup, Premier League, or League Two.
They are so important and we’re good at them.
I thought I was doing well with my five goals in 66 caps but Maguire’s got seven from 51 which is not too shabby.
Defensively, Senegal are poorly organised. I’m looking at Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly and, although he has ability, he plays for himself and doesn’t organise the men around him.
His relationship with keeper Edouard Mendy, another Chelsea player, seems to be non-existent.
Mendy is a fantastic goalkeeper but he makes mistakes — you only have to look at the two he threw in against the Dutch.
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As a defence, you have to make play predictable, you have to be solid and you have to work together, making sure there’s no holes, communicating with your keeper, your full-backs and your midfield.
Koulibaly will get exposed one v one without the help he needs around him and that’s when the likes of Marcus Rashford can exploit him.
I remember our old Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger getting us to do one v ones in training using the whole pitch.
There was a lightning-quick Thierry Henry against me.
I’ve got no full-backs or midfield in front of me and Thierry, with his space and skill, just went past me.
I walked in and said to Arsene: “Don’t ever do that to me again. I’ve spent my whole career playing so I don’t get into that situation by working with the rest of the defence.”
That was how I was so successful, making sure the unit was always solid and no one was left isolated.
England have got too much for Senegal, whoever plays
Senegal aren’t structured like that but England are.
We’re bedding down John Stones and Maguire together which is a good, organised pair and they are well drilled.
Defence is the only area of the pitch where you need familiarity and consistency.
It’s all about those partnerships at the back which I used to keep saying to Arsene, who had this irritating policy of rotating defenders.
The only thing that’s predictable about Senegal is that they’re unpredictable.
They are very inventive and flamboyant and have a lot of talent but, while they will score goals, they’ll always let them in.
As for England, as Craig Revel Horwood said to me as I danced the quickstep on Strictly: “That was better.”
We had people running in behind against the Welsh while Maguire was spraying the ball across the pitch and stretched it — which is what I’d been crying out for.
While we did well against them, we shouldn’t forget the lads who started against Iran.
Where England are concerned, it seems those on the bench suddenly become better players than before kick-off if the team is struggling a bit.
We shouldn’t turn away from the players who have done it in the past.
Gareth Southgate picked the side for Iran for a reason — he believed in a trusted group to get off to a good start.
Players like Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount should not be forgotten.
I’ve still got one eye on the French in the quarter-finals and working out who is the best for that game.
Is it Phil Foden, or Saka or Rashford? Or two from three?
The great thing is we’ve got options and our A and B team are pretty much the same.
We’ve got too much for Senegal, whoever plays.
Source: The Sun
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