While the fallout from England’s inevitable 1-0 defeat to Germany continues, it might seem easy to join the ‘doom and gloom’ brigade.
The ease with which Joachim Low’s side – many of whom are not even the Germans’ first-choice picks – dismissed the Three Lions in their own backyard did little to repair the nation’s mood after the 2-0 defeat to Chile four days prior.
Yet events at Wembley, combined with a look back at June’s 2-2 draw with Brazil, suggest the outlook is not as bleak as it appears.
Indeed, the fact that England failed to register a shot on target against Germany is a worrying statistic – but one that doesn't tell the whole story. In the 56th minute of that encounter, Andros Townsend tucked in, as he so often does, from the right-hand side and curled a fine effort against Roman Weidenfeller’s right post.
In the Maracana earlier this year, meanwhile, Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a similar moment of magic – and the back of the net rippled as the Arsenal starlet's equaliser against the Brazilians sent shockwaves through Rio de Janeiro.
The 20-year-old cut in from the opposite flank to Townsend, of course, but that is exactly where the hope lies for Roy Hodgson and his men.
Imagine an England side no longer flailing in the creativity department, that could push forward from both wings and keep opposition guessing for a whole 90 minutes ?
Well, that is the prospect in store for the Three Lions once the injured Oxlade-Chamberlain comes back into the picture. Initially ruled out for two months, the Arsenal man is now set to stay on the sidelines until next year.
But – importantly – that would give him enough time to return to the top of his game and provide an attacking threat for England once more.
Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain is not a regular threat for Arsenal – but consider Townsend’s impact at Tottenham: just one goal in 10 Premier League games this season. For the national side, however, the 23-year-old’s threat is undeniable. So just imagine both youngsters terrorising rival defences at the same time.
Hope, then, does exist for Hodgson ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil. We might just have to wait until Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to be reminded of it.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald