England vs Switzerland result: Assessing Nations League success and Trent Alexander-Arnold's international future

Five things we learned as England beat Switzerland on penalties in Nations League third place play-off

Jack Watson
Sunday 09 June 2019 14:16
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Switzerland v England: Nations League match preview

England concluded their 2018-19 Nations League campaign with a 5-4 penalty shootout win against Switzerland in the third place play-off match.

After 11 successful penalties, Jordon Pickford saved Josip Drmic’s effort having found the back of the net himself earlier in the shootout.

Gareth Southgate thought Callum Wilson had given England a late winner when he scored a scrappy goal in the 84th minute, but a VAR referral showed he fouled a defender just before converting from close range.

The match would have been wrapped up much earlier but for England hitting the frame of the goal four times over the 120 minutes.

Kane hit the post in the second minute, Dele Alli went close with a header and Raheem Sterling was denied by the bar in extra-time as Gareth Southgate’s side looked the better team throughout.

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold stars in changed defence

Harry Maguire was the only player in the back four to start in both matches as Southgate continues to search for his best defensive line.

Joe Gomez came into the side in place of John Stones after his embarrassing error in Thursday’s semi-final, Rose was in for Ben Chilwell and Alexander-Arnold replaced Kyle Walker.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was the best England player 

This was a much stronger back line where all four players had good games and you feel Southgate could be reluctant to deviate from it, leaving Walker and Stones in the lurch.

One player that stood out well ahead of his teammates was Alexander Arnold. He was absolutely everywhere for England and creating seven chances against Switzerland, more than any England player had made in the entire Nations League campaign.

Walker’s caps may well be limited in the future if the Liverpool defender continues to develop and perform as he has been this season.

2. Southgate experiments with different shape

After looking second best in long spells against the Netherlands during their semi-final defeat, England slightly altered their formation and began with a diamond against Switzerland.

Eric Dier sat at the base, performing a similar role to the one he does for Spurs, with Fabian Delph and Jesse Lingard lining up ahead of him, then Dele Alli slightly further forward. Kane lead the side in attack and Sterling was given a free role as Southgate looked to produce as many options in the final third for players in possession.

It took just two minutes for the fluidity in attack to produce a scoring chance, Kane coming deep to begin a move before hitting the crossbar after a couple of incisive passes.

Raheem Sterling often got into good positions

Being armed with attacking fullbacks in Rose and Alexander-Arnold allowed England to retain an effective amount of width when in possession as both players created chances in the final third.

The system was a success out of possession too. Switzerland were often forced to play long and direct football, which with Maguire at the back and Jordan Pickford quick off his line is something you feel England are content with.

3. Dele Alli must respond after poor season

It’s not been a great couple of games for Alli, in fact it’s been a fairly poor season, his worst for Tottenham in terms of his goals and probably his all-round performances.

Alli carried his disappointing form in the Champions League final into these Nations League matches and was seriously lacking in sharpness. A goal will have been the perfect was to quieten anyone with doubts over his form, but when he was presented with a golden chance to open the scoring from a perfect Alexander-Arnold cross, he headed over from close range.

Dele Alli needs to recover after a disappointing season 

After a long season that was disrupted by a total of around 13 weeks on the treatment table, Alli will want to work hard this summer and get himself in the best possible condition to return to Tottenham in a position to improve.

4. Nations League passes first test, but not without its shortcomings

That’s the first edition of the Nations League done and dusted, well for England anyway, so, how did it do?

The group stage process was fantastic and added a lot of value to the international calendar by ridding supporters of the dull international friendlies that make watching football a chore. The games had a competitive and the supporters bought into it, remember that late goal against Croatia at Wembley?

There was not a great deal of quality on show

The knockout process, however, has felt a little more tedious. Perhaps that is because England did not win, who knows?

Playing the fixtures so long after the regular season has finished seriously reduced the quality and make the match far less compelling than it could have be.

5. VAR takes centre stage…again

It’s been a varied season for VAR, winning plaudits and attracting criticism with almost every decision that is referred to it.

The referee took a while to consider whether to review Wilson’s late goal and eventually ruled out the goal after spotting that he had pulled down a defender en route to scoring.

The decision was badly received by the England supporters in the ground, perhaps with some degree of bias, however the right decision was made.

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