Analysis: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling can fly down to World Cup 2014 in Brazil

In the Arsenal and Liverpool players, England have wingers to make a difference

Roy Hodgson was in Miami on Sunday, rather than London, but would surely have been heartened by the news from the Emirates. As Arsenal and Liverpool tore into each other for a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, the England manager was touring the training facilities of Barry University, which his squad will use in early June, when they stay in Florida for two pre-World Cup friendlies.

But even as the itinerary of England’s World Cup starts to cohere, the cast list still needs some work. Hodgson spoke last week about the breadth of his options in wide areas, about how, even in the sad absence of Theo Walcott, England have wingers who can make a difference in Brazil.

Had he been in north London Hodgson would have seen – with all due respect to Andros Townsend and Adam Johnson – his two best post-Walcott options. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling were both excellent, arguably the best players on the pitch and both suggested the possibility of international quality this summer.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was  the headline man at the Emirates, scoring the first and making the second. In Arsenal’s last win – a 2-0 stroll here against Crystal Palace two weeks ago – he had scored both and, having recovered from a knee injury, there is no doubt that he has provided a spark that had been missing here in the last month or so.

Arsenal’s problem, as Arsène Wenger knows, is that most of their midfielders prefer to run towards the ball rather than away from it but with Oxlade-Chamberlain back on the right wing they can stretch teams again. From the start he was teasing Aly Cissokho, able to go outside or in, a more varied threat than Tomas Rosicky or Santi Cazorla provide.

It was from one of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s excursions infield that Arsenal took the lead. He was in the box and alert as Yaya Sanogo’s blocked shot landed at his feet, and finished coolly across Brad Jones. Oxlade-Chamberlain, a brilliant counter-attacker, nearly sent Mesut Özil through and induced a first bookable tackle from Steven Gerrard. He did so again in the second half, but referee Howard Webb, for reasons best known to himself, did not send the England captain off.

The second goal, two minutes after the break, was made by Oxlade-Cham-berlain’s traditional wing-play. Released on the right by Özil, he burst down to the byline and pulled the ball back to the lurking Lukas Podolski.

That Arsenal move started with Sterling losing the ball but that was a rare error in an excellent performance. The 19-year-old, who started the game on the left wing, terrorised Carl Jenkinson, bursting past him at will and nearly winning a first-half penalty. Arsenal know what Sterling can do after the recent 5-1 defeat, but that is not the same as being able to stop him.

Sterling moved onto the right in the second half and played the last half-hour as a relentless right-back, covering the whole flank with the athleticism and enthusiasm of two men. He continued to stretch Arsenal while putting in covering tackles near his own goal, not allowing sub-stitute Kieran Gibbs past him.

Of the two, only Sterling completed the match. Oxlade-Chamberlain was withdrawn for Gibbs with 15 minutes left, not long after his unpunished foul on Luis Suarez in the box. But his pace and width are valuable to Arsenal now, so much so that he may have played his way into facing Bayern Munich here on Wednesday night.

That will be a serious test, and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sterling will undergo more before Hodgson picks his final list. More displays like this are needed if they are to hold off the competition but for now these two must be at the front of the queue.

Read more: Mourinho is an embarrassment says Wenger
Webb's spot of bother allows Arsenal to find their feet
Mourinho rejects 'bad boy' tag
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sterling could shine in Brazil
Oxlade-Chamberlain welcomes 'confidence boost'
Who is Yaya Sanogo?
Suggested Topics
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game