Euro 2016 Qualifiers: Walcott upfront for England?

Euro 2016 Qualifiers: Walcott upfront for England?

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The fate of both nations had already been predetermined before kick-off. England had already qualified for next year’s competition in France, whereas Estonia had no chance of qualifying (unless they beat England and then Switzerland after). It was because of this that the game played out almost like a friendly.

Watching an England international game is usually a drab affair, and this game didn’t fail to disappoint (as in it actually did) as the first half consisted mainly of England having possession and doing very little with it. Walcott broke the deadlock just before the half-time whistle to make it 1-0 after a sublime through ball by Ross Barkley made it through to Walcott, after he kept himself onside from a great run. Playing as a part of a front three consisting of Harry Kane in the middle and Raheem Sterling on the left. Walcott began the game on the right side of the forward line.

For the last few years all Walcott has been asking for is to play upfront. Arsene Wenger has granted him this role at Arsenal, with the results looking more positive on each performance. Indeed, this goal meant that he had scored 7 goals in the last 9 games for club and country. Prolific.

In fact, if you take the last few games of last season into account – West Brom at home, the FA Cup Final against Aston Villa and a 10 minute cameo against the Republic of Ireland – the stats are even better, 11 goals in 12 appearances for club and country.

Theo (as he is known by his adoring fans) is clearly growing into the position and beginning to hold up the ball, lay it off, and make all the runs that actively annoy defenders. He is, dare I say, becoming the complete forward. He’s bulked up so he has improved his strength, his current goalscoring form is great so he has the finishing, and more than anything Walcott clearly has pace.

Still, Roy Hodgson’s darling Harry Kane received the nod in the central forward position. In contrast Kane is not firing on all cylinders this season, however his 30 goal haul of last season should not be dismissed. Against Estonia Kane failed to pull up any trees though he did make himself busy and Estonia’s defence was resolute. It was Sterling who added the second for England to make the game 2-0. Hodgson subbed Walcott for Jamie Vardie, who switched sides with Sterling. The ball went over the top, Vardy pushed over the defender, the ref waved play on, Vardy continued and squared it Sterling to run onto.

The fact is Walcott still has a long way to go to convince even Arsenal fans that he is their number one forward, therefore he has a mammoth task of convincing fans of the national team that he is worthy of that role.


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