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- Chelsea set to win Title at a Kante!
- Leicester face tough choices as losses compile
- The Year of the Roo-ster!
- Marvel at the latest Craven Cottage arrival: Fulham Sign Thanos!
- Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record is a rare piece of Manchester United history. Take notice.
- MOTD: Ibrahimovic salvages United point against Liverpool
- The Crystal (Palace) Maze!
- Glory Days for Andre Gray!
Rashford has the Marc of an England striker!
What’s the key to success with the England national team? Recently, Harry Kane’s strike just seventy-nine seconds into England’s match versus Lithuania started a trend of goalscoring debuts and Marcus Rashford followed suit at the Stadium of Light on Friday night. Although many onlookers felt it was still a bit Rash to include an eighteen-year-old forward with only eighteen professional appearances to his name in England’s Euro 2016 26-man provisional squad, Roy Hodgson was vindicated when Rashford made his Marc on the international scene with an incredible debut goal just 138 seconds into their 2-1 friendly victory over Australia. Suddenly, it seems a lot more likely that Rashford will be included in the final twenty-three-man Euro 2016 squad, named next Tuesday, two days before the Three Lions meet Portugal at Wembley in their final warm-up game before the tournament in France.
Mum’s the Word!
Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott may have all started young for England, but none of them can compete with Rashford, who made history by becoming the youngest player to score on his England debut on Friday. On the very day that Jose Mourinho was officially (and finally!) named the new Manchester United manager, two of his inherited strikers delighted for the national side. Rashford opened the scoring before many had even settled into their seats in Sunderland, in front of his proud Mother in the North East crowd, while Rooney came off the bench at half time to smash in a twenty yard strike from Raheem Sterling’s cross, which proved to be the decisive winner.
Rashford, barely eighteen-and-a-half years old, beat the previous record set by Tommy Lawton for the youngest goal on their England debut. Rashford has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last few months and has truly gone “Around the Football World in 93 Days,” going from the United Under-19s, to scoring on both his Manchester United and England debuts, including the winner in the Manchester derby and a brilliant goal in their FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham. Most 18-year-olds are panicking about starting university, but Rashford is causally scoring in the Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and England, leaving his Marc in every game he plays!
Club teammates Rooney and Rashford are at contrasting stages of their international careers, with the captain netting his fifty-second international goal, extending his all-time goalscoring record of England. Perhaps now Mourinho will re-think a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic if Rashford and Rooney can keep up this form in front of goal.
Although Rashford appeared to be in danger of being cut from England’s provisional roster ahead of the tournament, Roy Hodgson challenged the youngster to knock one of the established strikers off their perches and he has done just that. Daniel Sturridge may now be sweating over his fitness with Rashford’s form putting the Liverpool forward’s spot at risk. Sturridge missed the Australia match with injury and Hodgson already indicated he only wanted fit players on the plane, with three players facing the trim. Manchester City midfielder Fabien Delph looks to have lost his spot in the squad as a result of injury and midfielders Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend may need to fight in training to make the all important twenty-three as well, with the battle to revere a spot on the plane to France heating up.
Socceroos or Soccer-lose?
It was more like Soccer-lose than Socceroos for the Australians, as the English beat their Aussie rivals despite almost giving the game away when Eric Dier embarrassingly headed into his own net shortly after coming on as a substitute. The Tottenham Hotspur holding midfielder came on as a centre-back to close out the game, yet cast some doubt on whether he is a viable option to step back into the defense in the case of an injury or suspension this summer with an own-goal.
Hodgson’s decision to take just three center-backs to France came under fire after England’s 2-1 friendly win over Turkey, but the impressive performance of John Stones against Australia and the success of Rashford and Rooney up front plastered over any defensive worries.
Jamie Vardy is having a Wedding!
Jamie Vardy has had his fair share of parties this year, but the Leicester striker missed the Australia game for his wedding. The Premier League champion scored the winner in the 2-1 friendly win over Turkey in last Sunday’s Etihad Stadium encounter and was given the time off by Hodgson to get hitched before this summer’s Euros.
Danny Drinkwater was also allowed to attend the ceremony and with alcohol assumedly off the menu for the professionals, he presumably got the opportunity to aptly drink water. Vardy has had to reschedule his wedding day a few times this season because of surprise England call-ups, but he will have complaints if he can enjoy a successful tournament this summer.
Roy Hodgson hand out another under-the-radar debut against Australia, with Burnley captain Tom Heaton finally getting the opportunity to get on the pitch for the last few moments of the 2-1 victory. Heaton is England’s third choice goalkeeper at the Euros and Hodgson let him come on for second choice Fraser Forster to close out the game at the Stadium of Light. Starting stopper Joe Hart, meanwhile, was given a rare night off.
Heaton recently enjoyed Championship promotion with Burnley, but bad boy Joey Barton (and fellow one-time England player!) still decided to jump the Turf Moor ship and join Rangers in Scotland. Heaton, though, may only have made it into the Euros squad due to the long-term injury Stoke’s Jack Butland suffered in England’s famous 3-2 friendly win over Germany in March. Yet it’s ironic that someone with “Heat” in their name made their England debut against the country famous for barbecues and Bondi Beach.
How England’s Starting XI may look for Euro 2016:
GK: Joe Hart
RB: Nathaniel Clyne
CB: Chris Smalling
CB: John Stones
LB: Danny Rose
DMF: Eric Dier
RMF: Jack Wilshere
LMF: Dele Alli
AMF: Wayne Rooney
ST: Jamie Vardy
ST: Harry Kane
Subs: Fraser Forster, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Marcus Rashford
England will face Russia on June 11th in their first match at the European Championships, like a meeting between Sir Elton John and Vladimir Putin!