Following on from the victory against Spain, England got a bugbear off their back by recording their first win over Sweden in 43 years. They were, admittedly, helped more than a little by the fact that Sweden looked like they were turning up just to make up the numbers, with Ibrahimovic’s several mile high attempt and Larsson’s accidental cross-cum-shot their only real attempts of note on the England goal. Which is probably a lucky break, considering Scott Carson was between the sticks for the second half. Anyway, here are some irreverent conclusions from what was a largely snooze-worthy 90 minutes.
1. On a Spurs related note, Kyle Walker had an excellent game at right-back, receiving the man-of-the-match award for his efforts. His pace combined with Walcott’s looked a potent combination, though Sweden hardly gave a thorough test of his defensive credentials. After Scott Parker received the award for the game against Spain, it’s further proof (if it were needed), that this season’s Spurs squad is the best for some time.
2. Last night was England’s first win over Sweden since 1968. That win also came after a 1-0 victory over Spain. 1968 was also the last time Manchester City won the League title. Omens, anyone?
3. Leyton Baines seems to have made an astute observation regarding the England squad – there’s a ‘bad hair’ niche. Spain have Puyol, Belgium have Fellaini, France have Sagna. Since the departure of David James from the international scene, however, England’s contribution has been somewhat lacking. Step foward Baines; though his effort is clearly still in its infancy, it’s an attempt that has future promise. At least, I’m assuming this is the reason for his horrible mop.
4. In case you hadn’t noticed the media’s main pre-hyping agenda before the game, England were one away from their landmark 2000th goal. Sadly for Gareth Barry, it wasn’t from his head, but the head of Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic. This after Majstorovic said before the game that he wanted to prove he was back to his best. Ooops.
5. The build-up for the goal, however, did involve a lovely cross from Stuart Downing. I’ll let that sentence sink in for a moment. Seeing Downing’s name on the team-sheet before the game is usually a cause for much sighing and shaking of heads, but admittedly the Liverpool winger put in one of his better international performances. Sure, the wildly off-target crosses still popped in for a cameo appearance, but he almost managed to pull off looking threatening for most of the game. Liverpool fans will be hoping he can play like that a bit more often for them, considering he has no goals and no assists since his move from Aston Villa.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – so often an enigma on these shores. He has an impressive record of winning a domestic title every year since 2004, playing for five different teams in the process, yet just two goals in eleven appearances against English sides has left everyone on this side of the channel decidedly non-plussed as to why he continues to command such high transfer fees whilst see-sawing between Spain and Italy. Cracking Movember effort, though. Shame it was pretty much the only memorable thing about his appearance…
7. Whilst we’re on the subject of Movember, Scott Carson seemingly missed the specifics of the memo, and turned up for the second half sporting a hefty amount of face-fuzz. It’s entirely possible he’s been growing it since his last England appearance, perhaps in the desperate hope that football fans won’t recognise him and laugh in his face.
8. Jack Rodwell’s performance in midfield was one of the good news stories of the night. Apart from his missed sitter, which really does look worse every time you watch it.
9. Starting with Bobby Zamora up front – why? Bobby’s 30, going on 31, so he’s not getting any younger. It hardly meshes well with Capello’s ‘only picking players in form’ schtick either, since he’s gone a Heskey-esque five games without scoring (actually, I only wanted shoe-horn Heskey’s name in there to make the amusing point that ‘Heskey’ literally translates as ‘Donkey’ in Swedish). It’s puzzling why Sturridge wasn’t given more of a run-out from the start, considering he probably has a better case for being on the plane to Polkraine next summer.
10. In the two friendlies England played over this international break, there was a grand and daunting total of five shots on target. England themselves only managed three. Hardly the stuff of future continent-beaters. Also worth noting that, following on from their defeat to England on Saturday, Spain could only scrape a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica after being 2-0 down at half-time; puts the victory into perspective a little.