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Does Walcott Deserve a Place in the England Squad?

As we are all aware, the Easter weekend has been tagged as the period for the final international break of the season as coaches would have a final look at their squads ahead of their selections for the forthcoming Europeans Championships. For England boss, Roy Hodgson, it would offer him a chance to see the Premier League’s finest strut their stuff at international level. The former Fulham and West Brom manager has named his squad for the friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany and as you’d expect, there are a couple of fresh call ups in the side with the inclusion of Danny Drinkwater, that has been outstanding for Leicester City.

In goal, Jack Butland, Fraser Forster and Joe Hart have done pretty well for their respective clubs with the Southampton goalie’s form recognized as he won the PFA Player of the Month award for February. There are familiar names in the defense with the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, John Stones, Chris Smalling, Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker in the list but youngsters like Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand made the grade. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs was deservedly overlooked, as I don’t believe that he has done enough this season to warrant selection.

In midfield, it hurts to see my compatriot, Bamidele Alli, in the team list but I’m happy for the lad because he has been in outstanding form for the enemy. There were also call ups for Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and newbie, Danny Drinkwater. In attack, I have no qualms with the call ups for Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck but does Theo Walcott deserve a place in the England squad at the moment?

In all honesty, my answer would be ‘NO’!!!

Many fans feel that his selection is based on the fact that he’s playing for one of England’s biggest clubs because if we were judging based on form, he would be at home watching the game from his TV screen. This has been a terrible campaign for the England international, even though he reached a personal milestone when he clocked a decade with the Gunners.

This season, he has played up front on his own, he has featured on the left wing were he was so peripheral in games and of course, he has gotten a run out on his ‘favored’ right wing position. In 32 games, he has scored eight goals but his importance to the team is becoming questionable because he doesn’t tend to make any impact when he’s summoned to do a job on the pitch. We were all happy for him when he ended his drought with a two-goal haul against Hull but I’m still hoping that he makes a good contribution for the team between now and May.

He has been usurped from the first team by Joel Campbell despite injuries to right wing favorites, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Following Alex Iwobi’s impressive outing at Camp Nou, he may just get the nudge over a non-performer like Walcott.

With his poor form, he has been selected for the Three Lions and it would be interesting to see if he’d get a run out on the pitch.


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Celebrating Theo Walcott – A Stalwart at Arsenal

Theo Walcott may be 26-years-old but for those that don’t know, he has spent 10 years at Arsenal.

His career began at Southampton but the Gunners snapped him up at a very young age and nurtured him to become a man in every sense of the word. Back in the day, he was ‘just’ known for his pace but with each passing season, Walcott added some more into his game and 10 years, Arsenal fans can be proud of the player he has become.

From his first goal against Chelsea in the 2007 Carling Cup final to his 81st goal against Manchester City this season, Walcott is one player that will always give you that edge in attack. His battle with Olivier Giroud at the start of the season was quite interesting but in recent weeks he has been drafted to an unfamiliar left wing position, and he hasn’t lit many fireworks there. However, you cannot fault his defensive work and his spirit, as he has matured to an all round player, which is something his manager can be rightly proud of.

The 2012/13 season will always stand out for Walcott as he achieved his personal best of 21 goals in a single campaign but injuries have been one of the biggest thorns in Walcott’s flesh and I feared for the worst when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that sidelined him for up to a year. Since his return to first team action, he has made his contributions to the team with some goals and as long as he remains in the team, there’s always a chance that he could find the back of the net.

It hasn’t always been peachy and creamy with Walcott though. Off the pitch, his contractual issue was a pain in the arse for the Gunners and there was a collective sigh of relief when he put pen to paper. On the pitch, there are loads of games when Walcott becomes so anonymous, that you tend to wonder if he was selected at all. The last game against Stoke was a harsh reminder of that – Alex Iwobi proibably had more touches in the 15 minutes he played than Walcott in 75, and you see the impact the young Nigerian tried to make in the little time he was allotted on the pitch.

But that’s the Theo Walcott we have come to know – brilliant on some days, pretty much shite on others, but we love him nonetheless.

On the international scene, Walcott hit the back pages when Sven Goran Eriksson took him to 2006 World Cup in Germany but was a surprise omission in 2010 World Cup, especially after he scored a scintillating hat-trick in the qualifier against Croatia. He got his first stint of an international tournament with his nation when he was selected for Euro 2012 and he made an impact in England’s 3-2 win over Sweden where he leveled the tie at 2-2 before providing an assist for Danny Welbeck.

With England being one of the first teams to qualify for the European Championships this summer, Walcott played his part with three goals in the qualifiers, taking his overall tally for his nation to eight goals in 42 appearances.

At just 26, he’s already due for a testimonial at Arsenal, but we would have to wait for quite some time because he’s not ready to hang those fast boots anytime soon. He already has 320 appearances for the Gunners, and I won’t be surprised when he hits 400 in the next two to three seasons.

Here’s to Walcott – Arsenal’s stalwart


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Updates on Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Injuries

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain receives treatment after sustaining an injury before being substituted

The Capital One Cup Round of 16 fixtures were completed yesterday with Middlesbrough cementing their status as giant killers in the competition yet again as they went to Old Trafford and earned themselves a victory over Manchester United. Elsewhere, Jurgen Klopp finally got his first victory as Liverpool manager with a narrow win over a Bournemouth side Brendan Rodgers couldn’t beat in the Premier League. Manchester City was the pick of the bunch with the Citizens running riot against Crystal Palace and Southampton edging past managerless-Aston Villa. In addition to Tuesday’s results that saw Everton, Hull, Stoke and Sheffield Wednesday emerge victorious, the draws for the quarterfinals would create an interesting prospect but Arsenal’s participation in this season’s tournament is over.

Arsenal fans are more concerned about the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott as they suffered injuries in the loss to Sheffield Wednesday. Prior to kickoff, the Ox was seen performing a stretching routine and it was no surprise when he was seen on the turf for seemed to be a hamstring injury. Walcott replaced the injured Ox and added to Arsenal’s woes as he spent barely 10 minutes on the pitch before suffering what is now reported to be a calf injury.

With Arsenal having all-important fixtures against Swansea, Bayern Munich and Tottenham before the international break, it’s quite saddening to know that Arsene Wenger would be without his English forwards, as the Mirror has confirmed that they are set for a lengthy layoff. With Walcott and the Ox out injured, the Gunners injury list is piling up yet again as the Englishmen are set to join Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Danny Welbeck (knee), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), David Ospina (shoulder) and Mikel Arteta (ankle).

Wenger can ill-afford any more injuries to the squad because it’s getting heavily depleted and the team is walking on a thin thread on several positions. Petr Cech is the only available goalkeeper for selection with Ospina suffering a shoulder injury. If Wenger couldn’t trust Matt Macey with a game against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, do you think he would get any minutes in more important competitions like the Premier League and Champions League? I think not.

With Walcott injured, the Gunners will lay all their striking eggs on an Olivier Giroud basket. The Frenchman responded well to spending some time on the bench with three goals in a week and he would be hoping to continue his scoring streak even though he hit blanks in Hillsborough due to lack of service. Walcott has proved that he’s a capable center forward and we would be waiting to see how he would respond to Giroud’s upturn in form. This competition is beneficial to the team and I hope it continues as both players do their bit to prove their worth to Wenger.

As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, I feel sad for him because he hasn’t fully convinced this season. Yes, there was the great goal against Chelsea in the Community Shield but he has failed to maintain that consistency and Wenger didn’t bat an eyelid in playing Aaron Ramsey out of position ahead of a natural winger like the Ox. With Ramsey suffering a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich and Arsene Wenger playing Walcott as a center forward, the way was paved for the Ox to get an extended run of games.

I wish them speedy recoveries from their muscular injuries.