Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard have been arguably the best English central midfielders this past season.
And so by this logic, they deserve to start together for the national team. However, it has often been noticed that whenever the two play together, England often lack a cutting edge in attack, especially under Roy Hodgson. Here's why Lampard and Carrick should not be played together.
The main reason why the two are not an effective partnership is the blatant lack of pace in both of them. If only one had endless reserves of speed and energy, they could well have become one of the most fearsome midfield duos in world football.
And this lack of pace is even more exposed under Hodgson's preferred 4-4-2 system with the absence of a third midfielder causing them to work even more in order to control the midfield.
This is exactly why Steven Gerrard is a vital clog in the England machinery, with the Liverpool and England captain providing more pace than Lampard at the centre of the park.
Lampard could well be as good as, or even a better player than Gerrard, but Gerrard is more suited to play with Manchester United's Carrick, who is easily the best option England have for the holding midfield role.
This tactical glitch when Lampard and Carrick are played together was very much evident in the recent 1-1 draw against Ireland, wherein neither Carrick nor Lampard could successfully relay the ball to the strikers.
They were crowded out in midfield, and also lacked the pace to escape their markers. Also, with the absence of a third player in the centre of the park, they had a tough job to do their best when they were outnumbered. Hodgson's strike duo of Rooney and Sturridge ran the channels endlessly, but lacked the supply to do anything significant, and ended up cutting a sorry figure.
In the end it was Lampard's strike that would rescue the day for the Three Lions, but that did not make up for a midfield showing that was relatively bereft of invention.
It was a self defeating formation, and cost England victory in a match in which they were expected to run out comfortable winners. This match proves that Hodgson needs to keep a plan B ready, wherein his teams dynamics are not drastically affected by an injury to captain Gerrard.
And that plan B is definitely not to replace Gerrard with Lampard, like for like.
England's average showing in this match leaves Hodgson with two options - either to shift to a three-man central midfield, or to bench one of Lampard or Carrick.
With Carrick's form in recent months firmly establishing him as a starter, it is likely to be Lampard who takes the fall for one of the up and coming talents - that is unless Hodgson finally loses his tactical rigidity to adopt a formation that can include both these midfield stars.
Either one of them is too good a player to be wasted , and Hodgson should look to extract the best out of both of them by building the team around them, in a formation that can include both of them.
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