Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Premier League Hopes and Frustrations Evident In England v. Germany Match

The hopes and frustrations of two Premier League clubs were on display as England drew 3-3 with Germany on Monday. England, despite its abundance of Premier League talent, was relegated from the UEFA Nations League by its loss to Italy Friday. Things looked even darker on Monday as Manager Gareth Southgate’s squad fell behind 2-0 in the 67th minute of the Germany match.

Chelsea fans can empathize with England’s struggles. Chelsea forwards have been snakebit in front of goal in recent years, contributing to the recent sacking of Manager Thomas Tuchel. Those form of difficulties have also plagued the English national team which had failed to score from open play in the five matches leading into the Germany match. Former Manchester City and current Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling continued the poor track record as he came up empty on three different scoring opportunities in a goalless first half Monday.

Another underperforming Chelsea attacker, however, would find his scoring touch in a Germany shirt. Kai Havertz, scorer of one Premier League goal this season, struck twice for Germany in the match. Havertz’s first strike, for Germany’s second goal of the match, was a thunderous kick from afar following a pass from former Chelsea teammate Timo Werner. Further hope for both the Chelsea and England attacks was provided when Havertz’s Chelsea teammate Mason Mount would score to bring England even at 2-2 as Southgate’s club became far more aggressive after falling behind by two goals. England’s comeback, which saw a Harry Kane penalty give the Three Lions a 3-2 lead, ultimately failed when Havertz scored for a second time to rescue the draw for the Germans with just three minutes left in regulation.

Manchester United storylines were also front and center on Monday. Germany’s early two goals resulted from the continuing misadventures of Manchester United center back Harry Maguire. Manchester United’s captain had frustrated supporters with poor play earlier this season before being benched by Manager Eric ten Hag. England Manager Gareth Southgate, however,  has steadfastly kept the unpopular Maguire in his lineup. Booed by fans before the match, Maguire first gave the ball away and then immediately committed the penalty worthy foul leading to Germany’s first goal. Maguire would later be again dispossessed of the ball in the build up to Havertz’s first, and Germany’s, second goal.

Southgate is left to rue whether he needs to adopt ten Hag’s view on Maguire. The Red Devils have, after all, won four consecutive matches since Maguire was benched. Southgate was, however, rewarded for his faith in another Manchester United player. Luke Shaw, buried this season on the Manchester United bench, began England’s comeback on Monday by scoring on an assist from Chelsea’s Reece James. Shaw can now hope to start for his country in Qatar despite his plummeting club fortunes.

While Shaw and Maguire continue to play for England despite their club misfortune, two other United players were left off the national team roster for these latest Nations League matches despite their improved Premier League play. Marcus Rashford is rehabbing a hamstring, hoping to be ready for the Manchester derby this weekend. Sancho was a more puzzling omission. Both Red Devils may still hope for an opportunity to help Southgate’s often-stagnant attack in Qatar.  

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