EPL

Greenwood's resurgence: Too little, too late for England squad inclusion?

By Sports Desk May 22, 2021

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of Mason Greenwood getting into Gareth Southgate's England squad was farfetched.

After a stunning breakthrough campaign in 2019-20 that saw him score 10 times in the Premier League, 2020-21 got off to a difficult start for the teenager.

It took him until December to score his first league goal of the season, and it took him a little over four months to net again.

Although he was in England contention at the start of the season, such form had seemingly seen him fall well out of the reckoning. When he was unsurprisingly absent from the March selection, few eyebrows were raised.

After all, it was back in September when Greenwood – having just won his first senior cap against Iceland – was involved in controversy involving two local girls being brought to the team hotel. He and Phil Foden were subsequently sent home and left out of the next squad.

But Foden was swiftly recalled in November having impressed early on, and he looks set to take on a key role at the Euros such has been his influence at Premier League champions Manchester City.

It's a slightly different scenario for the similarly talented Greenwood, and the reality is he will probably miss out, but his return form has at least given him a chance.

Perseverance and focus

As previously mentioned, Greenwood's form really suffered in the first part of the season, and that seemed to linger well into this year.

When considering what went wrong, it's of course natural to look at his performances and on-pitch habits.

For example, shot map data earlier in the season suggested he has potentially been found out by defenders. He wreaked havoc in 2019-20 when cutting inside on to his left foot and shooting, but it looked as though opponents had become wise to this, forcing him outside more often.

That's one theory – another worth considering is the human side of football. Let's not forget, Greenwood – a teenager – went through a lot last year.

There was the death of a close friend, the controversy on England duty and subsequent vilification of him from certain sections of the British media. All of that would be difficult for anyone to contend with, let alone a kid of 18 or 19 years.

Perhaps then it was just a matter of time, patience and perseverance for him to get back to his best, which he appears to be on the evidence of the past six weeks or so.

The fact we are even talking about his chances of going to the Euros is a triumph for Greenwood in itself.

From drought to downpour

Greenwood went on a run of 15 appearances without a single goal from late January, but he ended that barren spell against Leicester City on March 21.

Life has been rather different for him since then, finding himself back among the goals in the Premier League on April 4, netting the late winner as United defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 with a diving header.

That's one of six league goals in a run of eight matches, more than any other English forward in that time, netting at a rate of once every 88 minutes – by comparison, Harry Kane's recent form has him scoring every 125.8 minutes in the league.

Greenwood is once again showing the kind of killer-instinct in front of goal that made him so feared in 2019-20, when he scored 17 goals across all competitions.

Ten of those came in the league from an expected goals (xG) value of just 2.9, meaning he scored 7.1 goals more than expected. No player in the division could match that xG overperformance.

This would generally indicate elite-level finishing or a player getting lucky. Greenwood's form earlier this season suggested it was the latter, but since April 4 his xG overperformance in the league is 2.6 – the next best in this regard is Danny Ings (1.9 overperformance).

However, the caveat is that Greenwood's expected goals on target (xGOT) of 2.7 is lower than his xG of 3.4, suggesting that he's actually been a little fortunate, benefiting from goalkeeping errors, for instance.

For example, against Burnley his goal took a deflection en route to goal, while his effort against Aston Villa went in off the hand of Emiliano Martinez.

In terms of the difference between his xG and xGOT, Greenwood actually ranks poorly when compared to his rivals for a place in the England squad since April 4, with Ollie Watkins' 3.95 xGOT better than his 3.0 xG, which suggests his four goals have come about via good finishing because he has outperformed the underlying quality of his chances.

Ings, Kane and Marcus Rashford have also done better than Greenwood in this area of late, however the counter-argument would be that the teenager perhaps creates his own luck with unpredictable play on the ball and his comfort with either foot.

Southgate will make his decision regarding the squad on Tuesday, and Greenwood is likely still seen as an outsider, but there's no question he has given the manager food for thought.

Related items

  • Deschamps confirms he held talks with Mbappe and Giroud after dispute Deschamps confirms he held talks with Mbappe and Giroud after dispute

    Didier Deschamps has confirmed he held talks with Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud following their recent dispute.

    Giroud caused a stir after scoring a double in Les Blues' 3-0 friendly win over Bulgaria last Tuesday when appearing to suggest some irritation at a lack of service.

    He did not mention any player by name, but the comments were perceived to be aimed at strike partner Mbappe, who failed to pick out the Chelsea forward on several occasions.

    There were only three passes between the pair during their 43 minutes together on the field.

    Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe had the opportunity to respond at a news conference on Sunday and admitted to being "a little affected" by Giroud's remarks.

    However, Deschamps has insisted the incident was soon put to bed and France are now fully focused on their Euro 2020 opener against Germany at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

    "I spoke to them, in the same way I have spoken to other players," he told L'Equipe. 

    "When I feel I have to do it for certain reasons, I do it. Dialogue is a part of management, but listening is also good. 

    "These players at a very high level are easier to manage than those at a lower level. Yes, they have pride, but also ego – though I'm not sure if it's ego.

    "They are competitors and a balance has to be found. We need room in the team for everyone."

    Asked about the affect the exchange of words has had on the France camp, Deschamps said: "Everyone got back in the saddle on Thursday.

    "We are all working in the same direction with the same objective. It is also a question of generations, with different interests. Don't forget we spend 24 hours together.

    "On the pitch, they all wear the same jersey and I know they will all make the same effort as the others."

    Mbappe was reportedly blocked from speaking at a news conference last week, with Paul Pogba instead put up to speak to the press, but Deschamps denied that was the case.

    "To be clear, I was not opposed to that," he said. "Pogba offered to go and I validated. It's a reality, it happens.

    "Honestly, internally, I cannot talk about tensions because that is not the case."

  • Eriksen vows he 'won't give up' as he looks to 'understand' what caused cardiac arrest Eriksen vows he 'won't give up' as he looks to 'understand' what caused cardiac arrest

    Christian Eriksen has thanked those who assisted him after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch against Finland on Saturday and now wants to "understand what happened".

    Inter midfielder Eriksen collapsed in the first half of the Euro 2020 match in Copenhagen with no other player around him.

    He was given CPR by medics and the fixture was originally suspended, but once Eriksen was confirmed to be "awake" the game resumed just under two hours later, Finland going on to win 1-0.

    The Danish Football Union (DBU) provided an update on Sunday, confirming that he had suffered a cardiac arrest but his condition was stable pending further examinations.

    Team doctor Morten Boesen detailed how he could initially feel a pulse when he arrived at Eriksen's side, but that "suddenly changed" and meant CPR was necessary.

    The medical team and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer were widely praised for their respective roles, with the centre-back quickly placing Eriksen in the recovery position.

    And, speaking through his agent to Gazzetta dello Sport, Eriksen relayed a brief message of thanks as he now sets about learning why it happened.

    He said: "Thank you, I won't give up. I feel better now, but I want to understand what happened. I want to say thank you all for what you did for me."

    Denmark are next due to be in action on Thursday against Belgium.

  • Rumour Has It: Barca want De Ligt and Leicester eye Coutinho as Man Utd hold further Sancho talks Rumour Has It: Barca want De Ligt and Leicester eye Coutinho as Man Utd hold further Sancho talks

    Could Matthijs de Ligt leave Juventus?

    De Ligt joined Juve from Ajax in 2019 but his future has been a topic of discussion.

    Barcelona were strongly linked with him before he left the Eredivisie and are reportedly still keen admirers.

     

    TOP STORY – DE LIGT A BARCA TARGET

    Barcelona are keen on signing Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to Le10 Sport.

    LaLiga giants Barca have already brought in Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia, while they are also said to be interested in Memphis Depay of Lyon and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

    But it is claimed they are particularly eager to further bolster their defence in addition to Garcia's arrival, though they could face competition for De Ligt – Manchester United have long been linked with the Netherlands international.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Mundo Deportivo reports Leicester City are considering a move for Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho. It would be a reunion for Brendan Rodgers and Coutinho after working together at Liverpool.

    Atletico Madrid are eyeing Hakan Calhanoglu as an alternative to Udinese star Rodrigo de Paul. LaLiga champions Atletico want De Paul, who has also been linked with JuveInter and Leeds United. Should they miss out on the Argentina international, Calhanoglu is an option – the Milan star's contract expires at the end of June.

    United have held further talks with Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, says Fabrizio Romano. Dortmund reportedly want £81million (€95m), though United are currently unwilling to pay more than £60m (€70m). Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked previously.

    - Romano also reports Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2026 has been agreed. The Italy international goalkeeper is set to join PSG on a free transfer following the end of his Milan deal.

    - According to Corriere dello Sport, Milan are in talks to sign Real Madrid pair Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola on loan. The Rossoneri have also been linked with Luka Jovic and are seemingly poised to secure the permanent signing of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea as well.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.