Wilshere gives England hope, but where does Lampard fit in?

Feb 7, 2013

The Arsenal man excels in midfield alongside Gerrard as pundits marvel at England show

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ENGLAND'S unexpected and impressive 2-1 win over Brazil, and in particular the vital performance of Jack Wilshere in midfield, has left football pundits in state of mild shock.

"Roy Hodgson's men seemed to experience a genuine epiphany," marvelled Liam Twomey of Goal.com. "English players can, in fact, pass a ball with speed, accuracy and purpose. And they did it, time and again."

It was, said Steven Howard of The Sun, just like watching Brazil. "But these were the guys with the three lions on their chest. The ones who normally can't trap a bag of cement."

He warned about getting carried away. "When it comes to friendlies, we're world champs. But put England into a competitive fixture and their heads tend to turn to jelly," he said. "Last night, though, it looked pretty good. And we haven't been able to say that for some time."

Some couldn't resist predicting good times ahead. "Recent glum talk of England maybe needing a play-off route to the World Cup finals in Brazil might just have to be sharply revised," said The Independent's James Lawton.

At the heart of all the optimism was Wilshere, the Arsenal prodigy who had an exceptional game at Wembley. Tony Cascarino of The Times said he delivered "the sort of performance that lights up a stadium".

He compared him to the troubled Paul Gascoigne, as did Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail. "Wilshere wore Paul Gascoigne's old No 8 shirt and showed signs he could be England's next midfield genius."

The Arsenal youngster missed last season through injury and this was his first start for England since June 2011. "It was the display of a player making up for lost time," said Dominic Fifield in The Guardian.

Wilshere's partnership with Steven Gerrard was also impressive. The Liverpool veteran "can drop more naturally into that deeper lying midfield role these days and allow Wilshere to scurry at will," said Fifield. "They looked a seasoned pairing for long periods."

Tom Cleverley, the third member of the first-half midfield triumvirate, was also singled out for praise, and it looks as though Hodgson has come across his first choice set-up. "A midfield of Steven Gerrard behind Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley. The king of the jungle supporting his two young lions, " said Howard in the Sun.
However, the winner came from second-half substitute Frank Lampard and while he too was praised to the rafters, the age-old issue of how he fits into the England midfield was largely ignored. The closest anyone got to addressing this was the Guardian, which noted that Lampard gave England "strength in depth".

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