What did we learn from Engand's win against Malta?

What did we learn from Engand's win against Malta?

Gareth Southgate's men eased to a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Oliver Emmerson

England continued their 100% start to their World Cup qualifying campaign on Saturday night with a 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley Stadium, coasting to three points by all accounts.

Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring just past the 20 minute mark with a neat header, whilst Dele Alli grabbed the second just before half time, reacting well after having his initial shot saved. 

The second half was quieter, with fewer chances all around, but England kept their composure to see the game out without any problems. 

Southgate ticking all the right boxes

Having somewhat fallen into the England job after the Sam Allardyce scandal, albeit temporarily, Gareth Southgate is certainly doing nothing wrong if his objective is to take the role on full time, something that had been touted for him in the future.

Taking over at a tricky time after Allardyce's departure, Southgate selected a fairly progressive squad, and said all the right things ahead of the game, something which his predecessor was eventually guilty of failing to do. 

However, it's results which he'll be judged on, and the former Middlesbrough manager has started with a strong one. He picked an attacking looking side, handing a debut to Jesse Lingard, which proved to be a good decision.

It seems rude, and unfair, to say that Southgate could very well end up with the full time role due to a lack of suitable candidates with elsewhere, but if results continue to go according to plan, that may well be the case.

England can only benefit from Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool resurgence

Only two Liverpool players were named in the starting 11, Jordan Henderson joining Daniel Sturridge in the side whilst Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana sat out injured, but the two men from L4 were amongst England's best players.

The Reds have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season under Jürgen Klopp, with both Sturridge and Henderson, especially the latter, playing a part in that.

They linked up for the first goal, Henderson crossing well for Sturridge to execute a perfect header into the corner of the net, easing the pressure on the men in white.

Henderson could have already had two assists by that point, as he'd already angled in two superb balls for Alli and Lingard, the centre-midfielder playing with the sort of pace and intensity that England often lack when moving forward, in arguably one of his finest games for the national side.

Sturridge too was on song, offering a nice blend of qualities as he roamed around the pitch, aiding his teammates in building attack's against a deep-lying defence, whilst also showing the ability to be in the right place in the right time inside the area, as showcased with the first goal.

The Wayne Rooney issue won't go away

If Southgate thought that the Wayne Rooney questions would end on Friday evening when he confirmed that the England captain would line up against Malta, he was wrong.

Rooney was selected in the position Jose Mourinho seems unwilling to play him, alongside Henderson in a midfield pivot, and it has to be said that he was the less inspirational of the pair.

Whilst Rooney was never going to have too many troubles against such a low-ranking team, one or two doubts over his ability in the position raised their heads, as he snapped into a dangerous challenge into the first half, one which some suggested he could have had his marching orders for.

Still, the experienced pro did execute a number of impressive forward passes, but his quality on the ball isn't what he's questioned about.

If Rooney isn't going to play in centre-midfield for United, then should he for England? A position he has little experience in, and his abilities to play it in easy qualifiers won't be of much aid when the big boys come calling in Russia. 

Dele Alli now part of the furniture

This time last year, Dele Alli was doing everything possible to show why Tottenham Hotspur had paid MK Dons for his services in the summer of 2015.

A year on, having scored a worldie on his England debut against France earlier this year, Alli is firmly part of the furniture. 

Where there's often chatter and speculation about a youngster lining up for England, there was barely even a mention about Alli's inclusion in the starting XI. 

Such is his importance to the side, it was expected, and he delivered another solid performance in his favoured number 10 role as he continues to shape his international career. A flick here, a pass there, and a goal to round off his night. Alli showed some promising link up play with Sturridge to, a potential partnership to look at developing in the future.