Predicting England's 2014 World Cup Starting Eleven
In writing this article, we a taking a view at the best contenders for a starting England line-up, based on a 4-3-3 formation. You can help with the prediction process by voting on each position, and help gain a greater knowledge of who the general public think should be starting for England in Brazil 2014.
How far will England make it in Brazil 2014?
Joe Hart (Manchester City)
I believe our last line of defence for the World Cup will most likely be the ever present Joe Hart. This season has seen Joe have some lapses of concentration and make mistakes which are unlike him, and could pave a path for challengers if they continue. Despite this however, he has also played unbelievable at times, most notably against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League home group match. That night Hart pulled off save after save keeping his team from utter embarrassment. Also more recently he has been performing solid keeping a number of clean sheets, which makes him possibly the front runner to be England's number 1 in Brazil 2014.
Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Recently renewing his affiliation with the England squad, after a self-imposed exile, and an existing relationship with England manager Roy Hodgson from Hodgson's time as West Bromwich Albion manager, Foster has to be the closest contender for the Goalkeeping role at Brazil 2014, if not only quality back-up to England's current Number 1, Joe Hart. Foster realised that in order to give his England chances a boost he would have to leave Manchester United. Therefore, he persuaded manager Sir Alex Ferguson to sell him to Birmingham City in 2010. Although he fell out of International favour when Fabio Capello took the England reigns, therefore he took an 'International break' until March 2013, when he made himself available, after a somewhat successful half-season (performance-wise) with his club West Bromwich Albion.
Who is most likely to be England's starting goalkeeper in Brazil 2014?
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Walker has put in some utterly professional performances this season. This is because when in attack he links up very well with teammates and creates problems for opposing teams. He is possibly the strongest candidate for the right-back at present, and if he helps his team Tottenham Hotspur qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season, it will undoubtedly put him as the main contender, and maybe even put his name on a position that was thought to be Glen Johnson's to seize since Gary Neville's retirement. Walker has secret talents too, rather than just his raw pace, strength and quality reading of the game, as he showed when he stepped up and scored a fantastic free-kick for Tottenham Hotspur at the end of last season, the first time he'd ever tried in a competitive game.
Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Adept at playing really anywhere in the back four, and even further up-field, Smalling is currently out-performing other challengers for the right-back position such as Glen Johnson and Carl Jenkinson. By the time we get to Brazil 2014, he may even be one of the strongest centre-backs we have at our disposal. He is currently playing in a strong Man Utd side who are proving to be an unassailable force in their venture to take the Premier League title away from their 'Noisy Neighbours' Manchester City. Within 5 years he has came from making a non-league debut for Maidstone United to been one of the most promising prospects for the national side, and surely under the supervision of Sir Alex Ferguson, there can only be room for improvement.
Who is the most likely Brazil 2014 right-back?
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
What a few years this man has had. In one season he went from playing in a relegation fighting Bolton team to winning the Champions League with Chelsea. Since John Terry has retired from international football, Cahill is now probably England's number one centre-back with not too much competition for places. Cahill is deadly inside the oppositions penalty area and has a knack for scoring goals. He still needs to improve his defending to be the complete centre-back, and who better to learn his trade off than John Terry at Chelsea.
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
Another player who in just a couple of seasons has went from playing in a relegation battling side to playing for giants of the game. Jones is a very powerful footballer who likes to take runs into the midfield and open things up. It's still not known whether Ferguson will turn him into a midfielder or keep him as a defender. He is a confident player and good with the ball, still only young there lots of time for improvement. I firmly believe that after his recent injuries if he gets regular games at his club Manchester United, then he can get a stronghold on this position for many years to come.
Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Jagielka has made steady progress over the past 10 years, slowly becoming a confident, competent Premier League central defender. Whether his progress has warranted a starting place at Brazil 2014 or not is probably still yet to be seen, and most likely subject to others injury status and form. Whenever he has turned out for England he has never let anyone down, but he has never outshone anyone either. If he is chosen he will play his best, but could come a cropper when against some of the world's superstars.
Joleon Lescott (Manchester City)
He has played a higher percentage of England matches than Man City matches this season, and that is probably the biggest problem for Joleon Lescott staking his claim in the number one central defensive pair for Brazil 2014. He has a great understanding with Phil Jagielka which could be a bonus for him, if Roy Hodgson decides to play them alongside each other in the World Cup. He is a good centre-back but the lack of match practice he has at the moment could be detrimental to his International chances.
What is the most likely central defensive partnership in Brazil 2014?
Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Cole has held this position for a long time with no real competitors, until lately that is. Cole's form has rarely dropped below excellent for around ten years now, and had often been referred to as the best right-back in the world. Recently joining England's '100 cap club' Cole shows no sign of slowing down. The main reason for choosing Cole is because of his defensive prowess and the way Roy Hodgson's team play. Under Hodgson England play a counter attacking game which requires strong defensive ability and concentration, which Cole has in abundance. Surprisingly, with Cole's attacking ability, he has never scored for England in any of his 100 caps, however he will be hungry to change that record before he retires, so where better than in the home country of perhaps the best left-back ever, Roberto Carlos, in Brazil 2014.
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Leighton Baines has been in superb form for his club Everton this season both scoring and providing goals. Albeit, only against San Marino in an 8-0 rout, Baines replicated his club form for his country which only gives manager Roy Hodgson more wanted selection problems. Although Baines has been great since joining Everton in 2007, and for England whenever he has appeared, he is still currently in the shadow of Ashley Cole. What could prove to be the reason he may be selected is his fantastic service from wide and dead-ball situations, creating chances for whoever may be selected up-front and even chipping in by scoring goals himself, both in-play and from free kicks.
Who is the most likely left-back selection for Brazil 2014?
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
In the last few years Michael Carrick has vastly improved his game becoming a regular in Manchester United's first team and controlling game with his great passing ability. If his form keeps at such a high level for the next season, then this spot is basically his, and I'm sure he will do everything in his power to keep it that way. In previous tournament's this position has been of much debate as managers have often played a host of midfielders who are attacking minded which has not benefited the team. Hodgson seems to do what other coaches haven't by putting the team above individuals and getting the right balance. At present, Carrick is performing well for Man Utd, and, in my opinion, has the edge over competitor for the position, Gareth Barry.
Gareth Barry (Manchester City)
This position has been mainly Gareth Barry's for the past few seasons, however Roy Hodgson is big on current form, and has thus far been keen to select Michael Carrick over Barry. Barry is always a solid performer for club and country, but can at times seem to be a bit of a safe choice. He has no real cutting edge, doing the basics consistently well, but never excelling or picking moments of magic. He can chip in with goals, and even find himself taking up more attacking roles, but is more comfortable sitting in front of the defence.
Who will be England's Brazil 2014 defensive midfielder?
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
After been out so long through injury, Wilshere has came back hungrier than ever. In many games since his return he has been the driving force for Arsenal and showed heaps of determination when his teammates have lacked it. His pace and marvelous creativity make him a vital part of England's team, as he can carve open teams with ease and create chances for others around him. When injured, Wilshere was lauded greatly as England's best prospect at been a World-Class player, and even joked about not playing for so long and the English media 'turning him into Messi'! Hopefully he will stay clear of injury and be ready to go in 2014.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Gerrard has missed tournaments in the past through injury and will hope to make it to this one as fresh as possible. He is a true all rounded, old fashioned midfielder, a box to box runner who can pass the ball well and score goals. Gerrard is always strong and physical who can break up play and push players off the ball. One of the most passionate footballers of his generation Gerrard will always give 100% for his country. Now England's captain, it is almost inevitable he will lead them out at the opening game of Brazil 2014 giving he keeps up his current good form.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Reinvigorated this season, after continuous speculation of leaving Chelsea, Lampard is in the middle of his best league goal-scoring vein in the last 3 seasons, with the season not even ended yet. He will be 35 turning 36 when the competition is played next year, however he is showing no signs of losing his talent, and currently at 95 caps will be eager to make it to 100. Lampard has a fantastic goal-scoring record from midfield, and even if Roy Hodgson decides he is only needed as back-up, he would be very decent back-up indeed, and could provide a cool head should a game come down to extra time or penalties. Frank Lampard is not to be written off and would be a surprise exclusion if he is not involved somehow at Brazil 2014.
Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur)
After a promising start to his career at Charlton Athletic, and a move to billionaire club Chelsea, Scott Parker seemed like he was going to be an England regular, however his career did not take off as it should have, and had to move around to Newcastle and relegation fighting West Ham, where his performances began to impress, then he got a move to current club Tottenham Hotspur and his stock quickly improved. He is now an un-surprising addition to the England squad and with some high level performances, and maybe an injury or two to fellow players, he may be a choice for a starting place come Brazil 2014.
Who will be the Brazil 2014 central midfield pairing?
Left Attacking Forwards
Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
Each chance Welbeck is getting with Manchester United he seems to perform better and better and developing as a footballer. Recently chosen over Wayne Rooney to play in a Champions League match against Real Madrid, this only goes to show how highly Sir Alex Ferguson rates him. Currently Welbeck does not find the net as often as a forward should for his club, however his hard teamwork and what he does for the other players is what makes him a good choice to start for the national team. He creates a multitude of chances, defends well and has pace for the Hodgson style of counter attack.
Tom Cleverly (Manchester United)
Cleverly normally plays behind the striker for his club, Manchester United, however, England manager Roy Hodgson has used him in a more offensive role, and with his ability to assist and score goals, although not polished yet, he may be a decent shout for the left attacking position. He seems to have been favoured so far by Hodgson, and if he keeps his performance levels up at Man Utd, could stake his claim as an England starter in Brazil.
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
With an injury troubled season, Ashley Young may have fallen out of the minds of many England fans, but not Roy Hodgson, getting a chance in the England side recently, and scoring against San Marino in the 8-0 rout, and he is maybe Hodgson's favourite left attacking forward player. He has had a few peaks and troughs in his Manchester United career over the past two seasons, and can easily pass through a game un-noticed, however sometimes he is exemplary and can finish with ease. A worthy challenger indeed for this position.
Who is most likely to start in the Left Attacking Position in Brazil 2014?
Right Attacking Forwards
Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Walcott has been long pursuing a chance to be a striker for Arsenal, and he finally has been given his chance this season. Proving he can score goals it has gave both Wenger and Hodgson something to think about, although I think Hodgson will decide to play him as a forward, I believe the role will be more of a right sided attacker. This will mean he will be there to pull wide and cross the ball in like that of a winger, which he has shown he can do exceptionally throughout this season. Walcott's defending isn't like the best, however his blistering pace may be a key factor in getting selected.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
Similar to Danny Welbeck, every opportunity 'The Ox' gets, he seems to seize and develop as a player. He seems to grow with every touch, pass and shot. The reason I have chosen Alex to challenge for the right attacking role is his fantastic ability to cut in and out of his opposition and create chances in the most unusual of ways for his fellow players. He, may by then, be established alongside Jack Wilshere in Arsenal's central midfield, and could pose a threat to the centre midfield positions, however, he is used mainly as a wide player,and the ability to cut in on his unfavoured left foot and get a shot off, or cross adeptly with his favoured right, could see him in good stead to force a starting position.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Keen to get first team football, and preferably a role as a striker, Daniel Sturridge forced Roman Abramovich's arm to get a January move to Liverpool. Early signs show that playing alongside enigmatic Luis Suárez, Sturridge is improving of even the form he showed for Chelsea. If selected for England however, we will undoubtedly be used as a right attacking forward, given that he is left-footed and can cut in on his favoured foot to power a shot past the opposing 'keeper.
Who will be the starter in the right attacking role?
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Wayne Rooney has been England's main man for so many years now and that doesn't look like changing any time soon. Good in the air, strong, creative and an adept finisher Rooney really does have it all. In more recent years Rooney has been playing further back in the Manchester United team which has took a bit of an edge off his game. For England he doesn't tend to play as deep, and with the type of system Hodgson is going for, it would make sense to play Rooney as the centre forward rather than a midfielder where other players such as Wilshere can play the role better. For me Rooney would be great leading the line for his country and lets hope this is what we see in 2014.
Jermaine Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)
Probably Wayne Rooney's only challenger at the present time for the centre-forward role, but unlikely to actually start ahead of England's usual 'Number 10'. Given half a chance Defoe can score a goal in a flash, and should Rooney for whatever reason not be a starter, Defoe would be a natural replacement, and given a good run in the starting line-up, could even challenge for the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot.