WATCHING England stumble to a frustrating draw against Scotland last Friday was like watching Arsenal.
Gareth Southgate‘s squad toiled with no attacking flair, a defensive-minded midfield double-pivot and with no intention of playing any forward passes.
Bukayo Saka must be included for England vs Czech Republic for his attacking impetusCredit: Getty
As a Gooner, the evening was made even more infuriating by the bittersweet experience of watching Kieran Tierney shine at left centre back.
To make matters worse, Arsenal fans were left annoyed by Bukayo Saka being glued to the bench yet again, despite being an obvious game-changer.
Southgate claims he’s protecting Sancho from the nation’s monster expectations at Euro 2020 – despite boasting 19 international caps already.
The excuse is embarrassing and, quite frankly, laughable.
After all, Mason Mount is clearly Southgate’s go-to man in midfield despite being just a few months older than the Manchester United target and made his debut LATER than Sancho.
But while England screams for Sancho – and Jack Grealish – we Arsenal fans are wondering why Bukayo Saka isn’t being talked about.
The Gunners’ Mr Versatile delivered a match-winning performance against Austria in the first of two Euro 2020 warm-up games.
Yet Saka wasn’t even on the bench for Scotland warmed by two full-backs, two centre-backs – one of whom isn’t even fully fit – and ANOTHER defensive midfielder.. also not match-ready.
Both for Arsenal and England, Saka has proven he can influence a game – from a variety of positions, too.
He simply must be involved against Czech Republic on Tuesday night, much like Sancho and Grealish.
I suspect the Aston Villa captain will start against the Czechs, but Saka is an attractive attacking option who can add some much needed impetus and directness from seemingly anywhere on the pitch.
Saka wouldn’t be fazed by the prospect of starting.
And with Mount potentially missing the game after coming into contact with Billy Gilmour – who has since returned a positive coronavirus test – the Arsenal maestro should be at least considered.
What was startlingly obvious to everyone watching, apart from the England coaching staff, is that against a well-organised low block there must be more variety in the attack.
England need better runs in behind to pass through an organised defence.
That, or they need players who can beat a man one-on-one so as to be less reliant on passing.
Saka is a player that is comfortable beating his full-back – something Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden singularly failed to do with any regularity against Scotland.
Not only that, the Arsenal ace is equally comfortable making well-timed runs behind a defence to receive a through ball or chipped pass.
In addition, as we have seen so often this season for Arsenal, Saka can happily take the ball at pace at his feet and play on the half turn, something so clearly lacking on Friday.
Sancho has far more experience and must be frustrated at his lack of opportunity to influence proceedings.
The Borussia Dortmund star is an out-and-out attacking winger and a genuine goal threat – having been involved in 109 club goals since the start of the 2018-19 season, when he was just 18.
Among England players, only Raheem Sterling (110) has more, with Sancho’s tally higher even than Harry Kane (106).
As such, the Bundesliga ace would be the obvious option to take over from Sterling, who – after a promising game against Croatia – was desperately poor against the Scots.
But Grealish and Saka can operate in deeper positions and a variety of different roles. As such they must be considered as alternatives to Sterling and Foden.
I am not saying Saka should necessarily start the next match.
But to not have use bravery, directness, trickery and versatility is the football equivalent of cutting off your nose despite your face, Mr Southgate.
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.