England arrive in Malta leading Group F, with a two-point cushion and a six-point gap over their Scottish neighbours. Gareth Southgate has plenty of player options for the next two qualifiers and has selected a huge 28-man squad for both tonight’s game against Malta and Monday's clash with Slovakia at Wembley. 5,000 England fans have descended on the sunny island of Malta expecting a conformable 3 points. The party atmosphere amongst England fans is in full swing, but Malta have nothing to lose, and will want to make something of themselves against their former colonial rulers.
The Three Lions remain unbeaten after six games, with four wins and two draws, however their performances have not been very impressive, and at times looked like a team of individuals, forcing 2-0 home against minnows Malta and Lithuania.
Gareth Southgate's men have also made it hard for themselves on the road. England’s star players needed a 95th minute goal in Slovakia to take all 3 points, could only manage a 0-0 draw in Slovenia, and needed a 93rd minute Harry Kane equaliser to save their skin against Scotland.
Key missing players include the now retired Wayne Rooney and the most in-form England player of late Adam Lallana. Kieran Tripper also failed a late fitness test, and will lose his spot to former team mate and world’s most expensive defender Kyle Walker of Manchester City.
Everton stopper Jordan Pickford is out with a muscle injury and will likely be replaced by the experienced Joe Hart. Since moving to West Ham, Hart has conceded 10 goals from just three Premier League games. This statistic is something that will be on the goalkeeper’s mind and could weaken a previously strong English defence, that has only conceded two goals so far this campaign.
England have managed to score an average of 1.6 goals per game and we can expect them to score at least two today.
Harry Kane who has failed to score in August over the past few years will be happy to kick-off September with a goal and could be a good bet to score anytime @. Dele Alli always seems to link-up well in an England shirt, with his Spurs team mate, and is a good outside bet to score first @
It's six games played and six losses in Group F so far for Malta, but apart from losing the first game 5-1 against Scotland have remained competitive, never losing by more than a two-goal margin, and in three of those games conceded late goals around the 84th minute mark.
Sam Magri is set to start in defence for Malta and will play against Raheem Sterling and Nathaniel Chalobah, who we played with at under-16, under-17 and under-19 level, repsesenting England.
England and Great Britain has always had a special relationship with Malta, but there will be no niceties when the game kicks off at 8.45pm local time and Malta try to cause an upset against the big boys.
Malta -2 handicap could be a good bet