CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the big match on Saturday between Scotland and England.
Scotland v England | Saturday 17:00 | ITV1
I must confess, I’m rather punch drunk with politics at the moment. It’s been an incredible week and the switch back to football isn’t an easy one.
However, this for me as a Scot, is the biggest game of all. It’s Scotland v England. The first competitive match between the two north of the border for 18 years.
I suppose after what’s gone on in the last 48 hours, one is tempted to believe that anything is possible but it would be a big shock if Scotland beat England here.
Gordon Strachan’s side have been staggering all over the shop in the last couple of years and have won just three of their last 10 competitive matches. Two of those games against the minnows of Gibraltar and Malta, so these figures are not impressive.
This campaign has been untidy. After an excellent second half performance against Malta the Scots dropped home points against Lithuania and were beaten convincingly by Slovakia and England.
A ray of hope has emerged for Scotland after a late home win over Slovenia in March but these are small measures. England will be a far stiffer task.
Fundamentally it’s hard to imagine Strachhave struggled an’s side dominating England or maybe even merely troubling them. Quite simply, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a slick Scottish display.
As for England, they’re wonderfully reliable in these sort of situations. The proud nation haven’t lost a qualifier for eight years and they already look to have one foot in the Finals after picking up 13 points out of 15 in this group.
Gareth Southgate has made a decent start to his tenure and the way he’s disposed of Wayne Rooney with the minimum of fuss deserves a lot of respect. He might just be everything we expected him not to be. Strong and stable, anyone?
Despite putting three past Scotland in the reverse fixture last November, Southgate’s England don’t look the most exciting in front of goal.
They failed to score in Slovenia and could only put two past Malta at home back last autumn. The presence of Harry Kane should put the fear up the Scots but the Spurs hero hasn’t been as effective in national colours and has struggled at this time of year with a long season taking it’s toll.
The occasion is a big one for Scotland. It would be unforgivable and another damaging chapter in Strachan’s tenure if they produce a meek performance on Saturday.
England to win and both teams to score looks big at 15/4 but the English haven’t conceded in this group and the Scots perennially struggle in front of goal.
Instead I’ll adopt a Correct Score approach and dutch England 2-0 and 2-1 victories at 13/2 and 17/2 respectively. If either cop I’m looking at around an 11/4 payout.
It’s been a crazy week, but while Jeremy Corbyn surprised us all on Thursday I think it’s unlikely the conservative Scots can add to the mayhem. Southgate’s seat will feel safer after this.