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'The stats speak for themselves': Young Arsenal duo criticised after poor international display

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Arsenal pair Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe started for England under-21’s yesterday, and both players struggled.

The Young Lions were beaten 1-0 by Switzerland in Slovenia – all thanks to Aidy Boothroyd highly questionable tactics.

Emile Smith Rowe was told to play on the flanks while Burnley star Dwight McNeil was forced to play as a wing-back. That was a bizarre move, and England, predictably, struggled to get things going.

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Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi tried his best to create something, but it didn’t quite work out. Boothroyd was criticised by many on social media, and rightly so after failing to get a result despite having some of the finest young talents in the country at his disposal.

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Former England international Rob Green had his say on Sky Sports during their live coverage of the game yesterday, and he criticised Smith Rowe for having a quiet game, while also claiming that Nketiah was left frustrated due to the lack of chances created.

He said: “They (England) play like that and they are out. It’s plain and simple. You cannot do that.

“The stats speak for themselves. A lot of passes. You are saying the creative influences and what the game plan is. It seemed like ‘get the ball to Callum Hudson-Odoi and hoped he did something’.

“You look at the creative influences. Dwight McNeil looked lost where he was playing. Smith-Rowe was quiet. You have got Nketiah, he was frustrated. And others in there. Who created anything? Who did anything?”

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The Insider’s View:

It’s clear as day that the problem is not the players, it’s the tactics.

The whole team looked unbalanced and that is never ideal – even if you’ve got incredible players on the pitch. Boothroyd has to accept all the criticism he gets for his game plan yesterday, which really was awful.

It’s a shame for Smith Rowe on his debut and Nketiah who wore the captain’s armband yesterday to come out of the game on the losing side. Hopefully, they take it positively and bounce back next time out.

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