England started their 2013 journey on high after defeating Brazil 2-1 on Wednesday night at the Wembley Stadium. Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard scored the winner as England ended their 23-year wait for victory over the South American giants.
Despite being a friendly tie, there are plenty of angles to talk about and one of them is the partnership in the central midfield between skipper Steven Gerrard and Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere that gave so much of optimism.
Gerrard spoke highly of Wilshere ahead of the match, who made his first appearance for the Three Lions after 20 months, saying that the 21-year-old has the potential to be one the best in the world in future.
The anticipation was high. After all, Gerrard and Wilshere are probably the country’s two best midfielders in terms of sheer talent. The duo duly delivered and kept Brazil’s highly talented midfield force at bay.
Balance was the key component England lacked throughout the decade with Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Scott Parker et al combining with Gerrard.
Obviously, Lampard is one of the finest midfielders of this golden generation for his nation; his inclusion in the side resulted in make-shift arrangements – a conundrum which Sven Goran Eriksson and other managers failed to fix during their tenures.
It was his presence in the middle that forced Eriksson to tinker with the position of Paul Scholes in Euro 2004. Further, Gerrard had to drop deep and shun his natural instincts to accommodate him in the middle and we all know how that project lead to a great catastrophe.
Gerrard is not a natural defensive midfielder or a holding midfielder by any stretch of imagination. He has to play there because of the greater need of his nation. He only needs a player around him who can provide that extra little help in terms of defending.
Wilshere is exactly the kind of player Gerrard needs by his side. He dropped down to help his skipper, played the ball nicely in and around the park and was always on the look out for openings at every possible opportunity.
Likewise, Gerrard found a partner whom he can trust while going forward. That’s the basic understanding of the game. If any midfielder makes a surge forward to join the attack, someone else should cover his place.
Lampard failed to give that protection. While Gareth Barry always made sure the policy of safety first, most of his passes were either sideways or backwards that lacked innovation.
From deep down in defence, whenever the duo has joined the attack, it has struck terrors in the opposition’s heart. Wilshere’s relentless forward movement and boisterous energy created a spark in the midfield while Gerrard maintained a tight discipline using all his experience into play.
The Gerrard-Wilshere combo gives a new hope for Roy Hodgson and everyone associated with the squad. Though it will take time to take more concrete shape, but if the duo keeps on doing what they did yesterday, there are plenty of reasons to believe in the side.