England’s preparations for Euro 2022 were given a boost after the side won the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup.
After draws against Canada and Spain, the Lionesses recorded a 3-1 victory over Germany at Molineux in Wolverhampton.
Ellen White scored the opening goal in front of 13,463 fans, before Lina Magull’s sublime free-kick drew Germany level.
With the match looking likely to finish a draw, England manager Sarina Wiegman ordered her side into a more attacking formation. This was to pay dividends.
Defender Millie Bright, who moved up the pitch and played as a striker for the last 10 minutes of the match, soon scored her second goal of the tournament.
Fran Kirby then secured England’s victory with an impressive solo effort in added time.
The Lionesses remain undefeated under Wiegman, who started her role in September. With Euro 2022 now just five months away, GiveMeSport Women highlights what we’ve learned about this England team over the past week.
England can compete against the best teams in the world
With all due respect to the teams who played England in the run-up to the Arnold Clark Cup, the Lionesses had not been adequately tested under the Wiegman regime, until now.
The side had scored for fun against North Macedonia, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Latvia, while earning a 1-0 victory against Austria.
As such, there was still a question mark hanging over England. Could they perform against the best teams in the world?
The Arnold Clark Cup has shown the Lionesses can do exactly this. To go unbeaten against three teams in the world top 10 is impressive, particularly with Olympic champions Canada in the mix.
The tournament will be a serious confidence boost heading into Euro 2022, where England will have to beat teams such as Spain and Germany if they want to have a chance of lifting the trophy.
The Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh double pivot is a dream combination
The Arnold Clark Cup gave England fans the chance to see the Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh double pivot in all its glory.
Williamson normally plays in defence for Arsenal, but has been moved up into a midfield role for her country. She has been paired with Walsh, her best friend who she has progressed through the England age groups with.
Playing in front of the back four and behind a number 10, Walsh and Williamson thrived. The duo showed composure on the ball and provided excellent defensive coverage.
They also were able to find Lauren Hemp, England’s most potent attacking threat, again and again. Passes were constantly pinged out with pin-point accuracy to the young winger, allowing her to embark on her trademark driving runs into the heart of the German defence.
The Williamson and Walsh partnership could well be the key to success at Euro 2022.
Sarina Wiegman can show flexibility when needs be
It was incredibly refreshing to witness Wiegman acknowledge that England needed a goal in the dying minutes of the game against Germany, and actually do something about it.
Moving Bright up from defence into attack was a risky move, but one that ultimately paid off. It also demonstrated that Wiegman is willing to be proactive rather than reactive, and change her formation depending on the situation in front of her.
Under a certain former England manager, the Lionesses often seemed rigid and inflexible. Thankfully this now seems to be something well in the past.
Sarina Wiegman has a major selection dilemma
The Arnold Clark Cup will have given Wiegman plenty to ponder in the coming weeks. She will particularly be considering her options both in goal and in attack.
England boast an abundance of goalkeeping talent, and three different players were given the opportunity to shine over the past week.
Ellie Roebuck is considered England’s number one goalkeeper, but Mary Earps has enjoyed the most minutes under Wiegman while her rival has been out injured.
Both goalkeepers played well in their respective matches, and Wiegman’s headache would only have intensified after Hannah Hampton pulled off a phenomenal performance during her England debut against Spain.
Wiegman will also have to decide on her favoured attackers out of Fran Kirby, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris and Alessia Russo, not to mention contenders who were not in the England squad this time around.
Good luck, Sarina!
Veteran players may still be in contention for England
Perhaps one of the most surprising sights of the Arnold Clark Cup was seeing Jill Scott dispossess Alexia Putellas in Spain’s penalty box.
In fact, Scott held her own against the Ballon d’Or winner for the majority of the match, nullifying her attacking threat.
Many have doubted whether Scott, now 35-years-old, still has a part to play in this England squad. But her performance against Spain showed that perhaps the veteran stars should not be completely dismissed for Euro 2022.
👏 Jill Scott > Alexia Putellas— MCWFC Xtra (@WeAreMCWFC) February 20, 2022