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England U-21 Friendly Review: A Chelsea Slant

None of this to be found in the U-21 setup.
None of this to be found in the U-21 setup.

England's under-21 side comfortably dispatched their Uzbek counterparts in Bristol today, the 2-0 scoreline failing to reflect England's total superiority in all areas of the field. Tottenham's Danny Rose opened the scoring, sweeping a loose ball into an empty net and Martin Kelly wrapped things up with a bouncing header helped past keeper Sanjar Kuvvatov by the head of an Uzbek defender. Everton's Jack Rodwell, captain in the absence of Manchester City fullback Micah Richards, was particularly impressive for his hour on the pitch, easily winning match of the match honours with an imperious display.

A few Chelsea players saw action in the game, Daniel Sturridge being the main man for much of it. While his work as a creator was good and the timing of his runs were excellent, he showed a complete lack of ability to finish the job he started. No fewer than three excellent chances (and a handful of less easy shots) fell his way and he spurned all of them, hitting each straight at Kuvvatov. One of his shots caused the rebound that led to Rose's opener, but England's failure to get on the scoresheet until midway through the second half was largely as the result of the Chelsea striker missing chances. Sturridge was swapped off for Marc Albrighton late in the half, who went on to miss an empty net chance from inside a yard. Perhaps he was contagious.

Michael Mancienne played the full game at left back, linking up well with Wigan's Victor Moses in the first half before seemingly losing concentration in the second, playing about eight sloppy passes too many for my liking. Uzbekistan weren't nearly good enough to capitalise on Mancienne's mistakes, but the lack of focus was very worrying. Jack Cork came on at half time as a holding midfielder, and put in a great performance up and down the pitch, putting in tackles before quickly switching gears and directing the attack. I thought he was one of the better players on the field in the second 45, and he seemed to pop up everywhere.

All in all, a mixed day. Not thrilled with Sturridge, but we know he has the ability to put the ball in the net. Mancienne is more of a worry, since we know he can't (and hasn't been able to) get away with being sloppy against good competition. Cork was a pleasant surprise, and his versatility should prove helpful to England and Chelsea over the years.

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