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Wales v Armenia: Key talking points as Rob Page’s side face crunch qualifier

Wales are hoping to celebrate another Euro 2024 qualifying victory in Armenia on Saturday (Tim Goode/PA)
Wales are hoping to celebrate another Euro 2024 qualifying victory in Armenia on Saturday (Tim Goode/PA)

Wales play their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier in Armenia on Saturday.

Automatic qualification is in Wales’ own hands as two closing victories will book their place in Germany next summer.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the main talking points of the game in Yerevan.

Deja vu

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales reached Euro 2020 by winning their final two qualifiers – and now face the same scenario (Nick Potts/PA)

The parallels between Wales’ successful Euro 2020 qualification and the current campaign are hard to resist.

Wales reached Euro 2020 with a fast finish – holding 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia to a Cardiff draw before winning in Azerbaijan and downing Hungary after back-to-back summer defeats.

Having suffered another pointless June and just beaten Croatia in Cardiff, Wales head to the Caucasus region again to take on Azerbaijan’s neighbour Armenia before finishing with a visit from Turkey.

Six more points will do.

Brennan’s back

Wales v South Korea – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Brennan Johnson missed Wales’ win over Croatia with a hamstring injury (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The loss of Tottenham forward Brennan Johnson to injury last month was a big blow.

Johnson’s pace and movement can trouble any defence, but boss Rob Page plugged the gap against Croatia by utilising a three-man forward line of David Brooks, Harry Wilson and Kieffer Moore.

All three performed superbly with Wilson claiming a match-winning double.

Johnson is expected to return, however – possibly at the expense of Brooks – with Page also likely to use the pace of Daniel James from the bench.

Midfield promise

Wales v Iran – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Ethan Ampadu has emerged as a leader in the Wales midfield (Nick Potts/PA)

There was much wailing in Wales when Joe Allen hung up his international boots following the World Cup in Qatar.

Allen played a massive role over the last decade and midfield was seen as a problem area in the wake of his departure.

But Ethan Ampadu, with nearly 50 caps at the age of 23, has shown his leadership qualities in striking up an effective partnership with 19-year-old Jordan James.

The pair were magnificent in getting the better of Croatia’s much-vaunted midfield last month.

Repeat or revenge?

Wales v Armenia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Grant-Leon Ranos scores for Armenia in their 4-2 victory over Wales in Cardiff in June (Adam Davy/PA)

Wales have failed to beat Armenia in three meetings.

There were two draws in 2002 World Cup qualifying, 2-2 in Yerevan when John Hartson scored a brace, before a goalless Cardiff clash.

Wales were expected to breeze past Armenia – 71 places below them on the FIFA rankings when they met in June – but a 4-2 defeat damaged their Euro 2024 qualification hopes.

More than one Welsh player has mentioned avenging that loss in the build-up to the Yerevan return.

Yellow peril

Wales v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Chris Mepham (left) will miss Wales’ final Euro 2024 qualifier with a yellow card against Armenia (Tim Goode/PA)

Defensive pair Chris Mepham and Neco Williams will be walking disciplinary tightropes in Armenia.

Both players have picked up two bookings in the campaign, and a third would rule them out of Tuesday’s final qualifier against Turkey.

Wales have yet to lose any player to three bookings, although Joe Morrell and Kieffer Moore served two-match bans for respective red cards against Turkey and Armenia in the summer.