England v Albania: Three Lions made to work at Wembley

Paul Higham thinks Albania will make life difficult for England at Wembley, and has a value double on two home defenders to hit the target...

England on the brink of qualification

England need four points from their final two qualifying games against Albania and San Marino to confirm their place at next year's World Cup in Qatar and complete yet another comfortable qualifying campaign.

Gareth Southgate will feel they should have already secured their place with two draws in their last three games providing a small speed bump in their progress. A stoppage time equaliser for Poland in particular has delayed would should be the inevitable, as it now leaves the Poles just three points behind in second.

Still, there's work to be done to finish this off and Albania represent dangerous opponents that are still fighting for second place in the group so Southgate will need to go at full strength at Wembley to try and avoid any slip-ups.

Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse are out with illness but Jude Bellingham and Kalvin Phillips have returned and could well start in midfield, while Harry Maguire will return in defence.

Improving Albania still chasing second

Albania are still fighting for second place with Poland but realistically need what would be a mind-boggling victory at Wembley to stand a chance of catching them - given the Poles play minnows Andorra in the first of their two games.

It's been a decent effort by the Eagles, with just two defeats to Poland and one to England so far in the group - and with two 1-0 victories over Hungary the highlights.

Albania have won three of their four away games in qualifying, all three of those without conceding, as they looked to make the World Cup for the first time in their history, but it looks like they'll come up just short.

Those three away wins are as many as Albania had managed in 48 games over the last 12 previous World Cup qualifying campaigns, so there's at least signs of improvement and if it is to ultimately prove to be losing cause, they'll be keen to go out on a high note at Wembley.

Can England keep another clean sheet?

England have won all five games against Albania, by a combined 14-1, and have never been behind against them at any point during those five meetings. Albania are also yet to score in England.

That leads to England being extra short at 1.1 for the win, with an almost unthinkable Albania win weighing in at 31 and even the draw a big price at 10.

Southgate's side have only suffered that one defeat in the Euro 2020 final to Italy in their last 18 games, banking 13 clean sheets during that time so if we accept England will win, it's 1.46 that they do so without conceding a goal.

Albania have scored in all four away qualifiers so far though and if you think they can complete the set then back the 4.4 on an England win and both teams to score.

Given England's firepower they could easily blow Albania away in a similar way to Poland in their 4-1 victory, but the visitors aren't usually involved in goalfests, with three of their last four games ending 1-0.

If that run follows then England and under 2.5 goals will come in at 3.0.

Defenders can hit the target

You won't get rich backing Harry Kane to score at 1.4 anytime, but that's always the case for England's main marksman and preference would usually got to Raheem Sterling who always seems to raise his game when pulling on the Three Lions and at 2.26 represents a touch of value.

Instead of goals, there's a couple of prices in the shots on target market that are of interest and they come with defenders Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell.

Maguire is 2.4 will be back in the side, he's always a threat from set pieces and England should have plenty of them as they'll dominate the ball, while Chilwell is 2.1 and should start with Luke Shaw a major doubt and the Chelsea man's had his shooting boots on this season.

Chilwell has a goal and two shots on target in three World Cup qualifiers during this campaign and will get plenty of the ball with the visitors sitting deep to try and frustrate England.

Albania also aren't scared to put their foot in, having had three bookings in the first fixture and also in one game against Poland - with five yellows picked up in the away fixture against the Poles and that could be a similar story at Wembley.

One man to look out for is Elseid Hysaj, who has three bookings in qualifying but with those coming in both games against Poland and the first game against England. The Lazio defender obviously gets hyped up for the big games and they don't come much bigger than this.

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