The coming Saturday evening’s Glasgow outing will give England an opportunity to cement their pole position in Group F which apart from their weekend rivals have teams like Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania. With 13 points from their 5 games, Gareth Southgate’s men are a clear 4 points ahead of 2nd placed Slovakia.
The expected omission from the English squad is Wayne Rooney, thanks to his dismal form in the 2016-17 Manchester United season. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) who captained England in their friendly against Germany looks an automatic choice at the back for the Hampden Park clash. There will be a tough competition to feature in the starting XI as far as the midfield space is concerned. Dele Alli & Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Raheem Sterling (Man City) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) are some of the big names in that space that Southgate will have to choose from. Harry Kane will be the automatic choice for striker, given his sensational scoring form and is likely to be partnered upfront by Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. Apart from Cahill, the defence could have names like John Stones (Man City), Kieran Trippier & Kyle Walker (Tottenham) making it to the playing XI on Saturday. For the goalkeeper’s slot, Joe Hart looks to the most likely candidate given his good performance in England’s qualifying win with Lithuania. Defenders Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw, mid-fielders Jordan Henderson, Danny Rose and Jack Wilshere will miss out owing to injuries.
Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher won’t find his name in the Scotland squad thanks to an injury sustained in the Scottish Championship semi-final play-off. Midfielders Kenny McLean of Aberdeen, Jamie Murphy of Brighton & Hove Albion and Hibernian’s John McGinn are all ruled out for various injuries. Stuart Armstrong & James Forrest (Celtic), Darren Fletcher & James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion) and Robert Snodgrass (West Ham United) look the probable starters in that space along with Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) and Steven Naismith (Norwich City) for striking roles. Craig Gordon (Celtic) who did well in Scotland’s win over Slovenia in March looks the most obvious choice as the team’s goal-keeper for the England clash.
Both Scotland and England’s performances in the last 10 international have been patchy with 4W/2D/4L and 5W/3D/2L for both respectively. For Scotland who had been trounced 0-3 at the Wembley in November, the Glasgow fixture is not just a revenge match but also a one of survival. Placed 4th in the Group with 7 points, they desperately need 3 points on Saturday to take them ahead of 2nd-placed Slovakia and 3rd-placed Slovenia. Scotland will have to bank on defeats for these countries in their coming fixtures, but given their easy outings against Lithuania and Malta such a possibility seems unlikely. The road to Moscow looks to be closing down for the Scots.
Despite the home advantage, bookmakers aren’t giving the Scots any chance of winning Saturday’s game as the odds below suggest.
England to WIN, Best Odds 1.7 @ Bet365
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