Is it Time for Foden to Cement a Starting Place for England?

Grace Crispin

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Is it Time for Foden to Cement a Starting Place for England?

At just 22 years old, Foden already has an impressive trophy cabinet. In five years with Manchester City, Foden has helped City to four Premier League titles, an FA Cup, four EFL Cups and two FA Community Shields.

Also in this time, Foden was a part of the City team that made it all the way to the 2020/21 Champions League Final, where they just fell short with a 1 - 0 loss to Chelsea, as well as an England U-17 team that won the U-17 World Cup in 2017.

Here we take a look at the first-ever episode of the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, brought to you by William Hill. Our main pundit here is former Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland, Everton and England manager Sam Allardyce who is joined by his right-hand man Sammy Lee to discuss the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

One of the first topics that will be discussed amongst many here is whether Phil Foden can nail down his place in England’s starting XI, whilst reproducing the form that he has shown at Manchester City over the past couple of seasons.

Can Foden cement a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI at England to potentially repeat his win in 2017, this time with the senior squad?

Listen to the first episode of No Tippy Tappy Football here

Foden's Form at Manchester City

Foden really solidified his place in Pep Guardiola’s team in the 2018/19 Premier League season, where he made 13 appearances that season, scoring just once.

However, the youngster clearly impressed, going on to make 23 appearances in the following season. In just 892 minutes, Foden scored five goals and registered five assists, becoming a cog in the ruthless and dominant Manchester City machine.

Foden’s best return for a Premier League season is nine goals and five assists, which he achieved in both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

The young Englishman has also impressed in Europe. In just 39 appearances in the Champions League, Foden has been on the score sheet ten times, with seven assists. This also includes goals in big games such as, a goal in each fixture against Borussia Dortmund in 2021, a goal against eventual champions Real Madrid in the 2022 Semi-finals, as well as assists against PSG and Atletico Madrid.

In the 11 appearances so far this season, Foden already has six goals and three assists, closing in on his best record for a season already so close to the start. Of these six goals, three came in a single game, with Foden netting an impressive hattrick against biggest rivals Manchester United.

How Foden has Fared With England

Gareth Southgate gave Foden his international debut in 2020, when Foden was just 20 years old. Since then Foden has made 18 appearances for England, scoring just two goals but registering six assists.

However, in terms of big competition, Foden only featured in three matches for England at the 2020 Euros, in three different positions. In the opening game against Croatia, Foden lined up on the right wing for Southgate, whereas against Scotland he was in the right of the midfield and against Denmark he was the attacking midfielder.

Does this ask the question of whether Southgate knows how to handle him?

Which Formation Would Suit Foden the Most?

In England’s most recent game, their 3 - 3 draw with Germany, the Three Lions lined up in a 3 - 4 - 2 - 1.

Southgate seems pretty set on using a back five, with three centre-backs and to wide wing-backs that almost become midfielders. This is more and more common throughout clubs in the Premier League, with the likes of Chelsea using wide wing-backs in the form of England internationals Reece James and Ben Chilwell.

The two midfielders in the middle of the park have more recently been Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, who can protect the defence as well as go forward and create.

The two wingers, and most commonly Foden, play in front of the midfield, using the width to support the centre forward, most usually Harry Kane.

Despite Foden regularly starting on one of the wings for one of the most competitive clubs with more than impressive squad depth, he can’t seem to cement the right wing as his for England. A problem many, including Sam Allardyce, can’t seem to wrap their head around:

“Unbelievable (player), scoring goals, making goals. He’s yet to nail it with Gareth and prove himself that he’s the number one spot yet, so in this form, I hope he’s going to do that”.

His main competition for a place in the front line are Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka. Sterling has been a mainstay in this England team from before Southgate even took over, and Southgate seems to have a certain affinity with Mount no matter his form at the time of call-ups.

However, a strength of Foden’s game will always be his adaptability in different systems. So if Southgate persists with his current favourite formation 3 - 4 - 2 - 1, Foden can play on the wing, but if he reverts back to a 4 - 3 - 3, like he played in the 2018 World Cup, Foden can occupy the attacking midfield role.

In fact, Foden has even played a ‘false nine’, centre forward-esque role before the acquisition of a traditional striker in Erling Haaland at City.

Overall, Foden has shown more than enough quality on the pitch for both Manchester City and England to warrant a concrete place in Southgate’s plans, his future just depends on whether Southgate wants to utilise his wealth of talent for the Three Lions.

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