Euro 2012: How Will Frank Lampard's Exclusion Affect the England Team?
After having a scan it was revealed that he would not be fit for any of England’s group games, forcing Roy Hodgson to drop the star from his 23-man squad. Lampard is the second midfielder on the side to be ruled out of the tournament after Gareth Barry picked up an injury in the friendly against Norway.
This leaves England in an all too familiar position, as there is no passer of the ball in the centre of midfield; no one to keep the play ticking over, keep possession and dictate the tempo of the game.
Jordan Henderson has been called up after having a hot-and-cold first season at Anfield, showing promise, but also showing his youth and lack of experience. The other options to partner Scott Parker are James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Steven Gerrard.
Milner proved himself in the centre of the park at Aston Villa, notching up 12 goals in his final season. He is a work horse, tactically aware of the game and defensive errors his side may be leaving open to exploitation, and of course can score goals from a deep position.
However, at Villa he was partnered with Stiliyan Petrov, a smart, defensive-oriented midfielder who is able to keep possession and dictate the tempo of a game when needed.
Playing this role just isn’t Milner’s forte, and England will struggle to control games with him there. However, he could be very useful on the counter-attack with his defensive stability, work ethic and eye for the goal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has only just broken through into Arsenal’s first team, and has made only one England appearance (a short cameo towards the end of the game against Norway).
He has no set position. Whilst he is useful on the wings with his ability to dribble the ball past defenders and deliver accurate crosses, he can also play centrally, looking to exploit space and keep possession. He can also pick out a pass sometimes if the execution isn’t great, and his passing can be intercepted a lot.
Chamberlain is a player who appreciates a more technical and slow-paced game, which would indicate that he has the patience to play in a deeper central role. However he is only 18-years-old and extremely inexperienced.
I can only imagine he will be making late substitute appearances to take advantage of tired legs and mind from the wings or from an advanced central position.
With Gerrard, Henderson and Milner in the squad there is certainly no need for a baptism of fire for the youngster.
Speaking of Gerrard, he will most likely be Hodgson’s first choice central midfielder. However, will he be tactically disciplined enough for it?
It’s obvious enough that Gerrard’s biggest flaw is his lack of tactical discipline. He does not have the ability to sit deep and recycle possession, slowly push the game forward if need be; keep the ball moving if a gap hasn’t opened up, waiting for that perfect opening.
It’s also obvious that Gerrard’s major strength isn’t his short passing game. Whilst he can play it and did so quite well for 30 minutes against Norway once he lost his composure and put in that extremely reckless lunge on Tom Hogli, which ended the Norwegian’s night. England completely lost the battle in the midfield, and Norway continued to out-class their opponents.
It’s a tough choice to make for Hodgson, as Frank Lampard was the only available midfielder who could sit deep and play that role.
Henderson is more adept to playing the central midfield position than Chamberlain.
James Milner doesn’t quite have the quality on the ball that Gerrard has, but he is more tactically disciplined and aware.
If there was ever a time to play down England’s chances, it’s now that the side are without a proper ball-playing, deep-lying midfielder and an unbalanced midfield.
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