Sep 6, 2013 at 8pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Gerrard (12'), Lambert (26'), Welbeck (45', 50')
Welbeck (45')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Can Moldova upset England?

Sports Mole looks at some key areas in Friday's match between England and Moldova to see whether the visitors can spring a surprise.

The odds for England's World Cup qualifying Group H match against Moldova, with the hosts 1/12 and the visitors 50/1, might point to a thumping victory for the Three Lions. However, those who have been watching England for years will know that this is not always the full story.

Manager Roy Hodgson's injury woes have been much publicised in the build-up to the game. He was already without Glen Johnson, Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney, with Steven Caulker and Daniel Sturridge now added to that list. Being without the in-form Sturridge, in particular, could be a blow, so which are the key areas that Moldova might look to exploit?

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard together:

It has been almost a year since Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard started together in the same England midfield. It has been perhaps the biggest discussion point since the so-called 'golden generation' of players came through, but the fact remains that in the past the pair have not reached the heights that they have for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham on August 24, 2013© Getty Images

This time it could be different. For years Gerrard and Lampard were partnered as the central pair in a 4-4-2. On Friday night they will have Jack Wilshere in between them, sitting deeper and bringing the ball through the middle. Both Gerrard and Lampard like to surge forward at will, and with the Arsenal man given the job of creating from deep they both could have some joy. If they do, then Moldova are in trouble; otherwise the visitors could gain a foothold in the midfield.

Ricky Lambert starting up front:

In the recent friendly against Scotland, Lambert had what can only be described as a dream debut, coming off the bench to grab a goal almost instantly. With Rooney out, now followed by Sturridge, he suddenly finds himself as the main man for England. On one hand, a big performance could do his hopes of a place in the World Cup squad a great deal of good, but on the other it will be seen that he should play well against a weak European side. Of course, playing well against Moldova might not be the best acid test, but he can only do what is asked of him.

Key to his performance will be the supply from the middle and out wide. His best assets are his finishing and aerial threat, which means that if Moldova can stifle balls in to him from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck from wide as well as Wilshere through the middle, then England's goal threat will be reduced. Keeping those players quiet for 90 minutes is another issue entirely, though.

England's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring the third goal against Scotland on August 14, 2013© Getty Images

A shaky Joe Hart:

For so many years it was more of a curse than a blessing to be England's number one. Ben Foster, Robert Green, David James and Paul Robinson - although his mistake was a clear bobble - have all suffered high-profile rickets playing for the Three Lions. With Joe Hart, the goalkeeping woes appeared to be over with a genuinely world-class player. However, his season has started poorly.

Against Scotland he fumbled in James Morrison's opener, which is the sort of error that is usually punished in competitive games. He followed this up with a blunder of a different kind for his club Manchester City, flapping at a corner to gift Fraizer Campbell Cardiff City's second goal. With Hart in very questionable form, expect Moldova to attempt shots from distance and loop in high crosses to test the goalkeeper's poise.

England manager Roy Hodgson looks on at the start of the international friendly football match between England and Scotland on August 14, 2013
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