FIFA World Cup 2022: The Six England Attackers Gareth Southgate Should Be Taking To Qatar

while the FIFA World Cup 2022 may not be imminent, conversations are starting to be had about which attackers should, on form.

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
New Update

The 2021-22 campaign has come to a close and while the FIFA World Cup 2022 may not be imminent, conversations are starting to be had about which attackers should, on form, be in Gareth Southgate's squad for that first match against Iran in November.

There may still be half of next season to come before the Three Lions boss makes those big calls but from what we have seen this term, these are the players who should warrant a place on the plane.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Gareth Southgate's Playing Style

The philosophy that first took Southgate into contention to manage England was established when he worked with the under-21s. His starting structure was most consistently a 4-3-3 – but one that was flexible enough to convert into a 4-2-3-1 when he felt it necessary to introduce a double pivot at the base of his midfield – and their attacking play was built on the wider rotations they offered with which their wide forwards moved infield to support their lone striker.

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Image- Coaches Voice

That same shape was retained when Southgate was first promoted to manage the senior team. Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand or Danny Rose overlapped from full-back, and Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Lingard and Marcus Rashford attacked infield as wide forwards, either side of Dele Alli supporting Harry Kane from his role as their number 10, in the knowledge that Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier were providing security at the base of midfield.

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General Shape (Image- Coaches Voice )

It was in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup that England used a back three (below), as they did when Glenn Hoddle was manager 20 years earlier and Southgate was often one of his central defenders. Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young were chosen at wing-back because of their ability to deliver accurate crosses from wide areas and set-pieces, when England were at their most effective.

Kane was supported by Sterling in an unorthodox front two, and Alli's forward runs – often made when Sterling withdrew to contribute to combinations through the inside channels – enhanced the threat they posed at crosses. With Henderson consistently their most defensive midfielder, Lingard switched between being cautious and being ambitious. When both wing-backs advanced he remained deeper to assist with breaking beyond the opposing midfield line; when he moved forwards to create, Sterling moved deeper to receive in a  withdrawn role, and Alli moved wider in anticipation of attacking crosses or creating room for teammates to rotate and move into.

For all that that system took them to the semi finals of Russia 2018 – the first time England had reached the final four of a major competition since Southgate played under Terry Venables at Euro '96, or of a World Cup since Italia '90 and the reign of Sir Bobby Robson – a back four returned for the majority of their first Nations League and Euro 2020 qualification fixtures. Similar rotations to those demonstrated by the England Under-21s also returned. It was when they participated in the Nations League for a second time that a back three was reintroduced via a 3-4-3 (below) in which Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips started to form their double pivot.


Attacking Shape

It is likely that the development of so many creative midfielders – in Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and James Maddison – since Russia 2018 contributed to Southgate persevering with a structure that allowed the two selected to work through the inside channels. Rashford and Sterling, similarly, operated from more narrow roles, even if from those roles they remained capable of playing further forwards. There were also occasions when Mount featured in a double pivot  before advancing to offer an additional number between the lines, and when England built with greater aggression. Mount's movements were similar to those offered by Lingard in their previous 3-5-2, but unlike in that 3-5-2, England's two number 10s rotated with the wing-backs outside of them; there have also been further experiments with the longer-term 4-2-3-1.

FIFA World Cup 2022: The Three Lions attack for Qatar 2022

Harry Kane:

His early-season form suffered as a result of a failed move to Manchester City but since Antonio Conte took over first-team affairs, Kane has been back to his brilliant self and he has a combined 24 goals and assists in the Premier League this term. Not only is he an excellent goalscorer but he is one of the best passers in the game right now, which makes the perfect player to lead the Three Lions' line in Qatar.

Jarrod Bowen:

The West Ham United star has had an incredible season and he has been instrumental to the Hammers' strong campaign in the league and in getting to the Europa League semi-finals. His pace and anticipation of situations would make him a handful for almost any defence he could face at the World Cup, not to mention his impressive goal contribution numbers this term - 18 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

Phil Foden:

FIFA World Cup 2022; Foden | Sportz Point.

Phil Foden (Image- Getty Images)

The 21-year-old is already a star player for one of the best teams in the world in Manchester City, and his intelligence when reading the game comes from his own natural talent. It also helps that he's been nurtured by Pep Guardiola and the likes of David Silva and now Kevin De Bruyne. While we are yet to see the same level of performance in an England shirt, his astounding ability gets him in the squad every time. And not to mention the 35 goal involvements for him in all competitions as well.

Bukayo Saka:

The Arsenal winger has enjoyed another bright campaign at the Emirates Stadium and he has already established himself as one of Mikel Arteta's dependable figures in attack. His 11 goals and six assists in the top flight show it has been another good season of development for the youngster.

Raheem Sterling:

FIFA World Cup 2022: Sterling | Sportz Point.

Raheem Sterling (Image- Getty Images)

Sterling has again spent time in and out of the Manchester City lineup and had a handful of games in which he has been wasteful or not had an impact. Yet he still has 13 Premier League goals to his name this term and last summer he was arguably England's best player at the Euros, delivering colossal performances in games that were decided by fine margins. Southgate appears to know how to get the very best out of him and that's what keeps him in the fold.

Tammy Abraham:

To those who aren't familiar with what goes on over on the continent, Abraham has had an outstanding first season with Jose Mourinho at Roma. The former Chelsea striker has scored 24 goals for the Italian side in all competitions and he has been instrumental in getting the Giallorossi into the inaugural Europa Conference League final. While it is almost impossible to depose Kane from his role as centre-forward, Abraham this year has established himself as the best possible understudy.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Players who can still impress Southgate:

There is still a lot of time for other players to get back in the fold for a place in the squad, with Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho chief among them.

Grealish's demotion has come from a mixture of lack of game time, not making enough of an impact and perhaps struggling to adapt to City's style. As for the United duo, the problems on and off the field have been no help to either, but Rashford's form in particular this year has been deeply concerning. They will both look forward to what new boss Erik ten Hag can do for their Qatar chances.

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