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Why Chelsea and Manchester United stars will be sitting on tenterhooks following England’s win against Serbia



The Three Lions started their Euro 2024 campaign with a victory over Serbia on Sunday evening.
Meat Loaf once sang that two out of three isn’t awful. If Sunday evening’s plodding group stage victory over Serbia taught us anything, it’s that when it comes to England’s chances of winning Euro 2024 – and, more especially, the composition of their midfield unit – two out of three may not be enough

A tepid exhibition at Gelsenkirchen, a city whose identity is inextricably linked to its mining history, saw England hard at work on the coalface, dulled pickaxes swinging and lungs spluttering up clouds of suspicious dust. Of course, there were positives to be found – Jude Bellingham looked like a Kardashian-endorsed mega-galactico incarnate, Marc Guehi barely put a pink boot wrong in the heart of defence, and Declan Rice was sublimely bullish in the engine room – but after an ascendant first half hour, the Three Lions fell into a shuffling rhythm of wasted possession and territorial surrender.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, in particular, is likely to face greater scrutiny than most other players in the tense aftermath. In an experimental move by Gareth Southgate, the Liverpool talisman was deployed in the centre of midfield, with the hope that his proclivity for creativity and range of passing would outweigh his relative inexperience and solve a lingering flaw in England’s otherwise impressive engine room.

While Bellingham and Rice are likely to be among the first names on the Three Lions’ roster, finding a suitable accomplice has proven difficult. Trent’s performance against Serbia suggests that the issue remains unresolved.

And without his serrated edge, Alexander-Arnold was found wanting in other areas. With England under pressure and their midfield as deep as a big squid, Southgate chose to hook the converted full-back and replace him with the aggressive dynamism of ponytailed Duracell bunny Conor Gallagher. Trent may not be as comfortable doing the hard yards.

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