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England are on the verge of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. The Three Lions will book their place in Russia if they can beat Slovenia on Thursday night after a qualifying campaign that’s been far from straightforward.
It all started off with a narrow 1-0 win over Slovakia in what would prove to be Sam Allardyce’s only game in charge. Gareth Southgate then took the England job on a temporary basis before being appointed as the full-time manager.
On the field, the former Middlesbrough and England Under 21 manager has seen the Three Lions ride their luck a little at times to remain unbeaten in Group F. Meanwhile, off the pitch Southgate made the perplexing suggestion that he’s picked players for the England squad who don’t deserve to be there.
Some have taken that as evidence that the 47-year-old is not yet ready to be England manager. Although Southgate has plenty of fans within the FA but he needs to win the England fans over, starting with a commanding victory over Slovenia at Wembley Stadium.
England 4/11 (William Hill)
Draw 7/2 (Coral)
Slovenia 10/1 (Bet365)
England have gone into each one of their qualifying games as the favourites with the bookies and there is no change against Slovenia. The best price you’ll get on the home side is the 4/11 that William Hill are quoting and while does look a little short, it’s a pretty accurate reflection of England’s chances.
Slovenia were able to frustrate England by holding them to a 0-0 draw when they met a year ago in Ljubljana but that’s the only time they’ve avoided defeat against the Three Lions in their four previous meetings.
England also have a very good record in qualifying matches, especially at home. Southgate’s men have won all four of their Group F games at Wembley Stadium, conceding just one goal in the process.
That goal was a shock early strike from Slovakia last time around and you can be sure Southgate will be imploring his players to keep things tighter in the early stages on Thursday. Slovenia average just a goal a game away from home in their World Cup qualifying campaign and have little to worry the England defence. So, rather than simply betting on the home team to win, back them to win to nil at evens with Coral.
England 2-0 @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)
England 1-0 @ 5/1 (William Hill)
England 3-0 @ 7/1 (Bet365)
England 2-1 @ 8/1 (Coral)
Draw 1-1 @ 9/1 (Betfair)
Draw 0-0 @ 11/1 (Ladbrokes)
There’s no surprise that score lines reflecting a comfortable England sit right at the top of the Correct Score betting. Southgate has played around with a couple of different formations in his time in charge but England have generally looked solid at the back.
England have two or three quality options in goal, they’ve got centre-backs playing week in week out for some of the best teams in the Premier League and midfielders who are not averse to doing their fair share of the work from a defensive perspective.
Southgate will have to get his team playing with a little more flair and creativity if they are to be taken seriously at the World Cup but in these relatively early stages of his tenureship, he is right to build from the back.
Given that Slovenia have proven to be tricky opponents away from home, it’s hard to imagine England will cut loose and score a hatful. So if you’re having a Correct Score bet, the 5/1 that Paddy Power are quoting on the England 1-0 selection looks the way to go.
Harry Kane 5/2 (Bet365)
Daniel Sturridge 4/1 (Bet365)
Jermain Defoe 9/2 (Bet365)
Marcus Rashford 9/2 (Betfred)
Raheem Sterling 11/2 (Coral)
Jesse Lingard 8/1 (Bet365)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 11/1 (Bet365)
Tim Matavz 12/1 (Betfred)
The moment that England confirm their place at the World Cup, Southgate will be sitting down with his coaching staff to work out how to tackle the tournament. That means some tough decisions on what his best starting XI is but Harry Kane’s performances over the past couple of years have made the centre-forward position an easy call.
Kane has been on fire ever since scoring his first goal of the season for England against Malta and the Tottenham striker’s ability to score all sorts of goals has led some to suggest that he gives England a genuine chance of making it to the latter stages of the World Cup.
We’ll have to wait and see whether England can get the best out of Kane on the biggest stage. For now, he is more than capable of continuing his incredible form by scoring the the first goal on Thursday at 5/2 with Bet365.
England to win to nil at evens with Coral
Harry Kane to score first at 5/2 with Bet365