Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eriksson: Why I Pick Hargreaves; Bayern Star 'Better Defensively' Than Carrick for Crucial Clash with Swedes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eriksson: Why I Pick Hargreaves; Bayern Star 'Better Defensively' Than Carrick for Crucial Clash with Swedes

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON revealed today why he has chosen Owen Hargreaves ahead of Tottenham's Michael Carrick to play in the defensive midfield role when England face Sweden tonight.

Carrick was tipped to be Eriksson's first choice in that position before the World Cup but was disappointing in an England B match against Ukraine and has not figured for the national side since.

The England coach said: "The two players are quite different. Hargreaves is quick, he tackles all over the pitch and he's aware of dangers behind him.

"Michael Carrick is a different type. He is more like a playmaker, a good passer. They are both good players but if you have a game like tonight's, then I think Hargreaves is the one."

There has been speculation that Eriksson, who will pair Michael Owen with Wayne Rooney up front tonight, would employ a diamond formation against the Swedes but it is understood that it will be a more conventional line-up, with Hargreaves playing the defensive role, allowing Frank Lampard more freedom.

Eriksson also hinted that, if the circumstances were right, he would give Arsenal teenager Theo Walcott his first taste of World Cup action.

He added: "Theo is looking better and better, more comfortable with every day he trains. The quality he has is incredible - the pace and touch."

The ideal scenario for Walcott's introduction would be a comfortable England lead with 20 minutes left. If the match is tight, Eriksson is more likely to bring on the more experienced Peter Crouch for Rooney at around the 70-minute mark.

"It would be good to put Theo on," said Eriksson, "but I can't be sure about it."

The England coach did single out another Arsenal player, Freddie Ljungberg, as a potential danger man for Sweden.

"Ljungberg has been important to the Swedish team for many years," he said. …

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