What are England’s options up front at the 2016 Euros?

With the European Championships starting in the next few months, many people are questioning which strikers should be picked for the England national side. Should they stick with the tried and tested Wayne Rooney, or should new blood like Jamie Vardy be given a chance?

England make the short trip across the French Channel this summer to head to the Euros where they will be taking on Russia, Wales and Slovakia in the group stages. Having qualified with an unbeaten record, many feel this could be the first time in over 50 years that England could leave as the eventual winners of the competition.

The first striker likely to be named is the squad is the England record goal scorer, Wayne Rooney. Despite having an injury hit season, one in which he has only scored seven league goals, he is still going to be England’s main striker at the tournament.

Another striker who has had an injury hit season is Danny Welbeck. The Arsenal striker missed most of the season with a thigh injury. Despite missing all of this time, the former Manchester United player has hit the back of the net four times.

He was involved in the most recent England squad for friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands so this is an indicator that Welbeck has a good chance of claiming a place in the squad for the European Championships.

One striker that has almost certainly secured a spot in the squad is Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. The Foxes striker has been one of the players of the season for the table topping side, scoring 22 goals so far this season.

He has been involved in the England set up for most of the season, and even scored in the 3-2 victory away at Germany last month. Many people feel that due to his impressive form this season for both club and country, he deserves to be in the starting line-up when England kick off their Euro 2016 campaign.

Harry Kane is currently the top goal scorer in the Premier League with 24 goals. He has been in extremely good form over the past 18 months for Tottenham Hotspur that has led to him becoming a main star for the national team.

He was also on the score sheet in the game against Germany, starting the comeback as England found themselves 2-0. Many people feel that if England are to keep their 442 formation that Kane should be starting upfront with Vardy. However, it is more likely that one of the pair will be on the bench with Rooney likely to be handed a starting berth.

Another player who has an outside chance of making the squad is West Ham United’s Andy Carroll. The former Liverpool striker has recently returned from injury and hit a hat trick against Arsenal which has many people thinking that he could give Roy Hodgson’s side another option going forward.

Daniel Sturridge is another striker who has struggled with injuries this season. He however is another potential option for England. In 17 international caps he has a return of five goals and if he can end the season well with Liverpool, which could include a Europa League win, he has an outside chance of making it into the international fold.

A striker who has made his debut in the Premier League this season and some feel could make the step up to international level is Watford striker Troy Deeney. The Hornets striker has had an impressive debut season with 10 goals and eight assists, most of which have come for his strike partner Odion Ighalo.

He could be perfect playing just behind the main striker, a position he has showed that he can play this season despite the fact that before he had been the main target man. There is the perception that Deeney is just a big lump who can’t play football, but he has proven with his performances this season that he is an all-round player.

England have a variety of options in the attacking department and these should be enough to see them through to the knockout stages of the tournament. From then on it will be a question of how well they can play as a team and see if they can reach the semi-finals of an international tournament for the first time since 1990.

 

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How have Leicester City become title challengers

Leicester City currently sit at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a five point advantage over nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur. But how impressive has their run to get into this position been, and is this because the top clubs failed to improve their squads during the summer transfer window?

There is no denying that the Foxes have proved everyone wrong this season. They were 5000/1 to win the Premier League at the start of the season, and were up there as relegation favourites with the three newly promoted sides in Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth.

This was not a surprise though. Leicester made a remarkable comeback last season when they looked doomed for relegation. They went into April with only four league wins all season, but went on a run that included six wins in their last eight games to secure safety.

Over the summer months they decided to part ways with Nigel Pearson and brought in the man known as the tinker man, Claudio Ranieri. The former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager made a number of shrewd signing. This included bringing in N’Golo Kanté from Caen, Shinji Okazaki from 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Christian Fuchs arrived via Schalke 04.

Kanté has been a revelation for City this season in the middle of the park, proving to be one of the signings of the summer. He is in the running for the PFA Player of the Season alongside teammates Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

Both Mahrez and Vardy have been in great form this season and have been the main attacking threat the Foxes have carried all season. Mahrez has 17 goals this season and Vardy is currently the league’s second top goal scorer with 22.

Despite all of this, you have to question how are a team of the size of Leicester City five points clear at the top of the Premier League, one of if not the best league in the world. Working hard as a team can get you so far but surely it’s not enough to get you to being the top team in England.

For example, Leicester have already qualified for next seasons Champions League. This means they could come up against teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus, AS Roma and Bayern Munich. This is not something that any Leicester fan would have expected to happen.

You have to wonder why teams like Manchester City, last season’s champions Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United are not occupying the top four spots in the League. Even a side like Tottenham Hotspur will be disappointed to be sitting behind Leicester, a team who have only been back in the Premier League for two seasons.

Manchester City’s league campaign seems to have derailed following the announcement that Pep Guardiola will be replacing Manuel Pellegrini as the Citizens boss next season. This along with their successful run in the Champions League, where they are set to face Spanish side Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals, means they have put their league form to one side.

The form of Chelsea this season is something nobody can explain. Heading into the season as reigning champions, many people had them down as their favourites for the title. However things have not gone to plan. Jose Mourinho was sacked in December with the side down near the relegation zone. Gus Hiddink took over and has guided them back into the top half of the table but this is still not enough to secure European football for next season.

Arsene Wenger will be extremely disappointed that his side have not been able to capitalize on the gap that has opened up this season with many of the other top sides performing poorly. This along with their defeat in the FA Cup Quarter Finals to Watford, their first defeat in the competition for two seasons, could possibly put his job in jeopardy this upcoming summer.

Louis Van Gaal has also had a disappointing season in his second full year as the Manchester United manager. The Dutchman is currently in a battle to get into the top four to secure his side Champions League football. This is looking like a tough ask as they currently sit four points back from Arsenal who sit in fourth.

All of these teams having off seasons combined with Leicester’s upturn in fortune has seen the Foxes rise to the summit in the Premier League. This is down to their hard working performances this season but partly is down to other teams who were expected to challenge at the start of the season coming up short.

Taking nothing away from Leicester’s achievements, they have had a fantastic season. The real challenge will come for them next season when they have multiple games a week with their participation in the Champions League. This along with the expected interest in their players during the summer months will be the making of the side going forward.