26 Oct Preview: Latvia v England
Tonight the Lionesses hope to continue their winning streak as they head to Latvia for their fourth World Cup qualifying game.
After a historic 4-0 win at Wembley Stadium, the Lionesses will be looking to earn another three points to maintain their spot at the top of the table.
Saturday night’s victory at the home of English football over Northern Ireland was the toughest match England have faced in their group so far. The home side eventually opened the scoresheet just after hour mark with substitute Beth Mead’s first touch of the game. Mead then went on to score three goals in fourteen minutes and became the first woman to score a hat-trick at Wembley.
England sit at the top of Group D with a full nine points and a mammoth goal difference of 22. Sarina Wiegman’s side are yet to concede and it can be argued that their defensive capabilities have not been accurately tested.
A victory over the hosts should not prove to be too difficult for the Lionesses, however external factors will need to be taken into consideration. This includes the state of the pitch, which will serve as the polar opposite to the luxurious grass of Wembley Stadium.
“It is a totally different stadium to what we experienced on Saturday. The circumstances and facilities are different” commented Wiegman ahead of the match.
“We will stick with our plan and try to perform the best that we can on whatever pitch we play on. We have to be aware that sometimes we might need to take two touches instead of one touch or maybe we need to speed up the pass a little, but we will figure that out.”
“We will definitely have the ball all the time. We want to bring the same energy and the quality we brought on Saturday. We want to score lots of goals and concede none.”
England will also have to be prepared to face another team that may well be happy to sit back and defend for the majority of the game. This proved somewhat frustrating for the Lionesses against Northern Ireland, whose compact formation remained particularly difficult to break down in the final third.
Nevertheless, Wiegman is unlikely to make drastic changes to her starting line-up, however we may well see starts for Beth Mead and Bethany England who provided all of England’s goals from the bench the last time out.
“It’s obviously an opportunity [to change] but the bigger picture is about who we want to see, who is close to the starting line-up.”
Latvia are currently ranked 102nd in the world compared with England’s ranking of eighth. The hosts have lost all of their World Cup qualifiers so far; however, that they have scored one goal in each of their home matches. Romāns Kvačovs’ most recently suffered a 4-1 defeat to North Macedonia who England beat 8-0 earlier this year.
Ones to watch
Fran Kirby is on course to earn her 50th cap for the Lionesses. The forward has recently filled a more central midfield role alongside Manchester United’s Ella Toone for country, opposed to the wider forward role she has occupied domestically for Chelsea in recent months. Kirby, who has been nominated for the Ballon D’or, is known for her quick feet, creative assists and her finishing abilities.
Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp is also one to keep your eye on. The winger played a magnificent game on Saturday earning two assists. Hemp’s pace and movement to decoy oppositions are unfathomable at times and her devilish crosses can cause a few headaches. Hemp will also be looking to score her first goal for the Lionesses.
How to watch
The match kicks off at 6:30 pm (BST) and will be shown live on ITV4 with coverage from 6 pm. Please check local listings if you are viewing from outside the UK.