Given that Roy Hodgson took charge of England on the eve of Euro 2012 and didn’t have ample opportunity to make his mark on the team, the impending World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign is really the first chance to begin assessing his tenure.
Obviously reaching the finals in Brazil is absolutely imperative, especially when you consider the relatively favourable draw the Three Lions have enjoyed and encouragingly for Hodgson, the bookies are confident he can guide his team to Brazil, Stan James pricing them at 4/9 to top Group H and bet365 making England just 1/6 to reach the finals.
A trip to Moldova is first on the agenda and again Hodgson’s charges are odds-on, this time at 1/3 via bet365, to make a winning start in Chisinau. BetVictor post 12/1 against the hosts and it’s 4/1 with Stan James for the potentially awkward assignment to finish all square but England should ultimately have enough quality to silence the vociferous crowd and pick up a maximum haul.
Nevertheless, the visitors can’t expect things all their own way and it could be that they have to be patient against a team likely to put plenty of men behind the ball. Stan James’ 3/1 for the Three Lions to secure victory following a drawn first period isn’t without appeal then even though Skybet, with their quote of 5/6, believe that England will be in front at the end of each half.
Ladbrokes rate Hodgson’s charges at 10/11 in the handicaps, where they start a goal behind and more accurately, a 2-0 success is available at odds of 9/2 courtesy of Paddy Power while Skybet’s offer 5/6 for any triumph ‘to nil’, a wager made more attractive by Moldova’s lack of goals.
In attack England aren’t exactly blessed with a plethora of options, which means that Jermain Defoe, who struck the winner in the recent friendly against Italy, could get the nod. The Spurs man, buoyed by signing a new deal at White Hart Lane, is 10/3 (William Hill) to break the deadlock in the Zimbru Stadium, where he’s 5/6 with BetVictor to strike at any stage.
Alternatively, Danny Welbeck is a 5/1 shot in bet365’s first scorer market and as the home side have failed to find the net in six of their last seven, BetVictor’s 20/21 for the contest to produce fewer than three goals is worth considering.
Jermain Defoe to score first – 10/3 (William Hill)
England to win 2-0 – 9/2 (Paddy Power)