Phil Thompson: Why Alexander-Arnold and Grealish make my England line-up for the World Cup

Thommo has his dream England XI in mind.


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Paddy Power ambassador Phil Thompson has been talking all things England ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year. Who should be in Gareth Southgate’s starting line up? What formation should he go for? Our man Thommo has his say.


Jordan Pickford should start for England at the World Cup. I am with the brigade that thinks he’s not done a lot wrong with England, a few mistakes with Everton, but in general he has been fine.

John Stones and Harry Maguire would be my go-to centre back partnership with Luke Shaw at left back. I think if he’s fully fit, he’s got to be in there. He’s an offensive player.

In order to get more out of the forwards, I’d go with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back. He would help the others get goals that we need.

I would go quite adventurous in midfield and would go for people like Phil Foden and Jack Grealish either side of Declan Rice.

Obviously, Harry Kane would be up front and I still think Raheem Sterling has that extra pace you’re looking for. I actually quite liked Jarrod Bowen, I thought he brought pace and had an eye for goal.

So you’d say that’s very offensive – 433 – but in a lot of the World Cup games, we’ve got the USA, Iran, and Wales. We’re going to have a lot of the ball, and if this team can get a grip of games, we need to back ourselves to score more goals than the opposition.

Phil Thompson’s England XI:

Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Foden, Grealish; Sterling, Kane, Bowen


England don’t have enough creativity. In the Nations League games, we had players like Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice and Conor Gallagher in midfield, and then you have the three in front of them, and I don’t think there’s enough there.

Harry Kane was working his socks off, he’s trying to create goals as well as score them! And I know Sterling has purple patches where he scores, but he’s finding it difficult as well.

These recent results might play into the hands of Alexander-Arnold, who is more creative than any of the other right full backs Gareth Southgate has on offer. He will help that forward line get into position, with balls delivered in the right area, and because of that we’ll create more chances.

We have created some chances and not finished them, Sterling has missed a couple that he should really take, but generally we need to be better and be more creative.

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