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06 June 2009

Kazakhstan 0 England 4

Yet another mind-blowingly entertaining England game. Yes, England did score four goals without reply. Yes, the Kazakhs did put in a fine show of harrying football in the first 45 minutes. And yes, the pitch was woeful. But it was hardly entertaining stuff, and hardly top quality. The beautiful game it was not.

The first twenty-five seconds seemed to set the tone for the first half. Kazakhstan had clearly watched last week’s FA Cup final and Glen Johnson – who will apparently be moving back to Chelsea this month – was on hand to help them in their attempt to mimic Saha’s early goal. Gifting the ball to the Kazakhstan allowed them to burst down the left, cross and shoot, only for Terry to scramble the ball clear.

Two goals from Barry and Heskey towards the end of the first half broke up what was otherwise a perfect example of unblemished turgid football. England’s passing was woeful. Frank Lampard seemed to be sitting too deep, with Gerrard and Walcott hugging the left and right touchlines respectively, and passes were forced and not finding their targets. Amidst 11 average performances, Lampard perhaps just bested the performances of his team mates with a high passing success rate and a nice touch to set up a Heskey shot that struck the post in the 29th minute.

The performance certainly did improve in the second half, when passes started to find feet and Kazakhstan started to tire. The otherwise anonymous Rooney scored a good third before Lampard scored a penalty, striking the ball high into the Kazakh net.

All-in-all – a professional performance and a good win, but serious questions need to be asked of England’s attack. Against weak opposition, the axis of Rooney, Heskey and Gerrard rarely linked up, and it was difficult to see what the plan was. This evening Heskey regularly nodded the ball away from white shirts and there was a lack of presence down the England left. In my view there isn’t enough goals in those three alone anyway (combined they scored 49 goals from 122 premier league appearances last season). Fabio needs to work out a way to make the attack click – and more frequently releasing Lampard might be one route. Against better opposition, England certainly won’t score four.

England games against weaker opposition are typically drab affairs. One wonders if Spain v. Kazakhstan would prove so tedious...

Chelsea player watch

John Terry – solid performance at the back, but did look half a yard short a couple of times in the first half. Arguably might have done better from a free header in the Kazakh box following a drifted Lampard cross to score his seventh England goal

Frank Lampard – Setanta’s man of the match. Came more into the game in the second half and was easily England’s most consistent passer of the ball. Well taken penalty for England’s fourth

Ashley Cole – sound defensive performance but often looked frustrated on the ball when going forward by a lack of options. Having an in-form Joe Cole back in the team could help get more from Cole’s attacking talents. Good strike in the box just head of the award of England’s penalty


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Paper this morning gave Frank a 6, with Gerrard a 7. Despite Nedved's best efforts, the English media just don't like Lampard it seems.

Fairly typical, I'm afraid. Gerrard certainly didn't have a bad game - but too many misplaced passes.

Ah well, what do the papers know?

Same old, same old. He could score a hat-trick and wouldn't get a better rating than Gerrard.

One thing I'd maybe disagree with in your post - 49 goals in 122 premiership appearances is a goal every 2.5 games, which is actually not too bad given that Rooney and Gerrard often don't play, and Heskey doesn't always start/finish. Given we don't have an outstanding goal scorer (you're right about that), we are going to need to get goals from all over, and I'd say quite a few of our players chip in with goals (Frank obviously, Walcott too). Yes we'd be better with Torres - but who wouldn't???

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