The wing it is for Theo next season.

With the football season done, as much as the fans despise international friendlies the game between England and Brazil was a welcome exception to the rule. The Arsenal interest much like the game against Republic of Ireland came in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given the mounting rumours of a done deal the Arsenal interest could be extended to that of Brazil number one Julio Cesar. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the bench however the game was an opportunity for fans to see Theo Walcott in a more offensive potentially central attacking role for England against a top quality side. Roy Hodgson opted for a three up top formation meaning Theo played in a role he was familiar playing at Arsenal. Roy Hodgson did allow him freedom to drift inside to support Rooney and he also swapped flanks throughout the game with James Milner.

Overall I believe the performance of Theo Walcott showcased the argument that he is not ready to take on a central striking role for Arsenal next season. Not meaning that he can never play there for Arsenal, he can be certainly terrorise certain teams with his pace and it will be a case of Arsene doing his homework on the choosing the right teams to utilise Theo’s pace against in a central role.

In yesterday’s game it is a fair conclusion to state that Walcott played well below his devastating best. With the game finely poised against top quality opposition with no need to commit men forward Theo was faced with receiving the ball with men behind the ball and he struggled to make use of the ball when he had it. It’s in games like this you need your forward to show strength and composure on the ball, be able to hold up the ball and bring others into play instead Theo’s play was hurried, his control was off and on too many occasions he ran into blind alleys. He did manage one clear chance which was superbly saved by the keeper; the angle was closed down and would have required good fortune for the ball to squirm its way in.

theo brazil

Nerves may have certainly played a big part in Theo’s game however it’s the big games you want your big players to step up to the mark, that’s what sets them apart from the rest. Theo has had a good season for Arsenal, the stats speak for themselves and this article is in no way an attack on the abilities of Theo Walcott. However it is a reflection on how Arsenal needs to do business this summer to bring in a specialist centre forward to share the load and create competition with Olivier Giroud next season.

Arsene wenger cannot go into the new season stating the squad has sufficient cover with players that can play in the central role such as Theo and Gervinho. The signs were there yesterday in the Brazil game of what is lacking in Theo Walcott’s game before he can make the full on transition to Thierry Henry mark II.

In my opinion the wing is still the best option, playing with talented playmakers’ that can pick him out when flying up the flanks. Until Walcott sharpens up the parts of his game that do not require pace he may have to wait a while before the fans and the manager take his claims for a central role more seriously.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a fantastic goal when he came on in the second half at a time when England were trailing and looking devoid of any spark to get back into the game. His brilliant snap-shot squeezed past the outstretched arm of Cesar and into the back of the net to take the game to 1-1. He clearly enjoyed his moment on the pitch and showcased his potential to score a goal out of nothing with his equalizer; an attribute that will be very welcome next season at the Emirates. He has signed off from his second season stutter with a screamer, the perfect tonic to take with him onto next season and hit the ground running.

Enjoy your day people.

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Carl Jenkinson: not ready for England

The international break is trudging along at a snail-like pace and boring the pants off premiership football fans across the land. I know there are those of you out there that actually have a concerted interest in their national team’s fortunes and follow their games at the same level as they would a club at domestic level. Don’t get me wrong I’m fully behind England and want them qualify for the world cup I just wish I had the equivalent of a Sky +/Tivo remote so that I could fast forward past all the advert like qualifiers and get straight to the good stuff: the finals.

Now with most of our squad away with their national teams the focus over the past few days has been focused on those players who have not been called up to their national squads; most notably Carl Jenkinson and Mikel Arteta. Our rejuvenated full back Jenkinson has been the subject of many pundits opinion on whether he should pledge his future to England before Finland snap him. As we all know he qualifies for Finland through his mother and has represented Finland for the majority of his youth up to U-21 level.

I have been very impressed with Carl Jenkinson this season along with everyone else who has watched him. I feel his performances have been deserving of the plaudits but I do feel the England calls have been very knee jerk which is a common fault with the English press/pundit system. We are quick to jump on the bandwagon of any players that emerge and tend to throw them to the top of the tree before they have had a chance to prove themselves. Maybe I’m old school but I feel some players are elevated to international football far too quickly; we end up with a high number of players on the scrap heap with a few international caps because they were thrown in the deep end and then the national exposure highlighted parts of their game that was not up to standard yet. There is no patience playing for England, its sink or swim and many a time players sink because it’s too much too soon. There’s nothing to say they will not be great players but my argument is that a good start to the season should not mean a starting spot for your national team. An apprenticeship should be followed; if a player is under 21 he should play for the under-21’s at some point then experience being called up to the full squad to train with the seniors but not play any games for a few call ups until they are deemed by the manager to be on same wavelength as the senior players.

Many players that are deemed true talent are fast tracked straight into the full squad, our own jack wilshere is one of those players who bypassed his apprenticeship but his quality was evident from the off and he definitely swam when thrown in. when you see a player like Raheem Sterling who in my opinion is going to be a massive player seeing him in England squads already is a bit of an insult.

We must also consider that the fast tracking and avoiding the apprenticeship can have a detrimental effect on the player’s psychology. When you give a young player too much too soon it can harm their career as they lose their humbleness and start believing they have made it, they are surrounded by people telling them how great they are, they are representing their country and everything seems easy before their career has even started. David Bentley could be an example of such a player, where is he now? Despite being a complete knob he did have talent but he believed he was the next David Beckham without putting in the work David Beckham did to become…David Beckham. Now he is trying to reinvent his career somewhere in Russia.

oh dear…

Now the example I used for Raheem Sterling is possibly one similar to Carl Jenkinson, the England hierarchy want to secure their services for England before they pledge to their other eligible countries (Jamaica and Finland). But I feel despite the possible chance of missing out on a player because they are offered international football a lot sooner; it says a lot more about the player’s character. If you have real plans to be a top player then im sorry Finland and Jamaica are just not going to put you there. If you as a player really want to reach the top and England is your option then you must be prepared to wait for when you are ready to represent England and not settle for the easy option elsewhere.

Its playing for England that will give you the opportunities to play in international tournament showpieces (how well they do when they get there is another story). But it is the utmost importance that when representing your country you have earned the right and have not got there by default. A player like Stephen Warnock at Aston Villa was part of the England squad during the world cup in 2010, today if you ask anyone their opinion of the player you will struggle to find anything positive said about him. Had he become a bad player overnight or was he never good enough to start with?

Now is Carl Jenkinson a player good enough to play for England? The answer is yes. Is he ready to be England’s first choice right back? I would say no. I have to take my arsenal tinted glasses off and admit there are English right backs well ahead of him at this time. Carl has had a great start to the season and what he needs to do is put the international talk aside and focus on building on his development this season. The only real test this season he should face is the competition when Bac Sagna returns to the first team squad. England selection is not a burden he needs right now, his fight is for the right back spot at arsenal is. If he can overcome that hurdle then he may be ready to move on to the next stage which is international football.

Sagna – soon to fight for his spot back

In fairness Jenkinson has played down the England talk and I hope he continues to do so. I do believe in him but I just don’t want him to be thrown in the deep end before his time. He has made a great start to the season but it is only 7 or so games this season I believe he needs to continue on this season as he’s going then maybe come end of the season the England people can really assess his capabilities. It was good he wasn’t included in latest squad, at the moment he is first choice at Arsenal by default but let’s see if by end of season he is first choice by merit.

NB: No disrespect is meant in this post to Finland or Jamaica. If a player feels strongly enough to represent their country of birth then fair play to them.

Enjoy your day people.

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England bow out on penalties, Chamakh doesn’t want to bow out – AFC

How many of you did not predict penalties in this tie? That was one outcome that everybody knew would happen. With no goals through 90 minutes and extra time England had finally succumb to the dreaded penalty shootout. It was definitely not a good night if your name was Ashley; both Young and Cole did not score their penalties which condemned England to taking the next flight home.

The game itself was not a classic by any means, especially if you were supporting England. After a bright start from both teams where it seemed they were prepared to throw two fingers up at all those who predicted a defensive stalemate from the two countries. That lasted all of five minutes then the real picture loomed.

As the game wore on Italy became stronger and stronger and missed quite a few chances you would expect them to gobble up. I believe the English post was struck twice over the course of the game and Balotelli had a game he would rather forget in terms of the chances he missed. England rode their luck a few times in the game as they became more and more tentative in their play. They dropped deep, kept their shape but at the times the broke on the counter they couldn’t string a number of passes together. The ball would break down and they would scurry back into position win the ball back and do the same over again.

As I had stated yesterday a game featuring these two countries needed the addition of someone special to produce that one piece of magic. I wanted that someone to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, England was calling out for his appearance. Rooney offered absolutely nothing on the night, nothing he tried came off and a lot of the promising attacks fell apart at his feet. Despite Jordan Henderson being trusted ahead on him last night young Alex will return to Arsenal with a lot of experience gained from his involvement in the tournament overall.

Theo Walcott did come on in the second half replacing James Milner who again was in the team on merit for his defensive qualities yet offered nothing going forward. Theo did in fact have the Italians on the back foot when in possession however that wasn’t in possession often enough as the England team seemed to force all their play on the left hand side. I have no idea why this was the case as Ashley Young gave the ball away far too much on the left flank and should really have been subbed at some point. I suppose in the end England believed their best hope to be penalties and played for them. Roy didn’t take that gamble the England team needed, the nation knew not to expect much when Henderson was brought on for Scott Parker and the only gamble Roy was prepared to take with the penalty shoot-out didn’t pay off. Not much else to say on the matter, the journey for the England team has ended at the quarter final stage. We didn’t expect much going into the tournament but gained belief as England progressed; we had some positives from Theo and Alex’s participation and will benefit next season from their experience gained.

In other Arsenal news the Bordeaux president has ruled out the prospect of Marouane Chamakh returning to the club this summer. It was though that after showing interest in the January transfer window for the striker they would renew that interest as it’s looking more and more likely he will become surplus to requirements next season. This has now been confirmed that Bordeaux will not be a likely destination. President Jean Louis Triaud said:

“It is not worth making things up. I tried to contact him six months ago when the transfer window was open”

he added:

 “Since I crossed paths with him at the Parc des Princes, he was able to tell me he was very happy in London, loved Arsenal and was fine where he was. We’re talking about things which do not exist.”

Don’t know what to make of those quotes, can Chamakh really be happy with the way his career has been going at Arsenal or is he happy with the bumper wages he is on? I stand by the latter, we must not forget he signed on a free and his agent would have made the most of that situation with wage negotiations. These same wages Chamakh is on would price him out of any move back to his old club. France isn’t known for its high wages apart from the money currently being thrown about at PSG.

I still believe Chamakh will move on if and when we complete the signing of Giroud from Montpellier but for now he is taking a seat next to Denilson, Arshavin and Bendtner in that waiting room of uncertainty.

Enjoy your day people

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England through, Giroud closer, Arshavin slips up – AFC

So England are through to the knockout stages at Euro 2012, they made hard work of it against the Ukraine who should feel hard done by for the goal that was not given. As predicted Roy Hodgson took the cautious approach and did not promote Theo Walcott to the starting eleven. Milner was chosen to provide more defensive cover against a determined home nation who went for a win. Rooney returned and scored the winning goal however his performance overall was rusty and ineffective.

Theo did get on the pitch in the second half though he was starved of any service as the England players chose to ignore him as an outlet. Strange choice there as his pace could have been utilized to stretch the Ukrainians who kept pushing for a goal. The minutes though will hopefully keep Walcott fresh in readiness for the game against the Italians.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on with a few minutes to go but didn’t really get a chance to have an effect on the game. He had one run but the ball trickled away from him at the point when he could have spread the ball to Theo. It’s still assuring that Roy Hodgson showed faith in the Arsenal man to come on in the closing stages of the match. A big boost to his confidence and there’s no reason why he wont be in Roy Hodgson’s plans for the Italy game.

As I mentioned earlier England will be facing Italy after winning the group; the French lost their final game against Sweden 2-0 and will now face Spain by default. The group stages are now over and the real pressure starts, Arsenal still has a part to play in the competition, roll on the Quarter finals.

The Olivier Giroud transfer to Arsenal seems to be gaining more momentum as the deputy president of Montpellier has confirmed negotiations between the two clubs over a transfer. This is the most definitive news yet concerning a deal with the tall striker and prices of around £13million are being quoted related to a clause in Giroud’s contract. Either way expect any deal to be concluded once France are no longer participating in the tournament.

Giroud managed to get some minutes on the pitch in France’s disappointing defeat to Sweden as so did the heavily linked Yann M’Vila. The midfield terrier started the game however my focus was on the England game and so I cannot report on either player’s performance against the Swedes.

Andrei Arshavin has caused a slight bit of controversy in his homeland after he was embroiled in an argument with some fans at the hotel the Russian team were staying at. Mobile phone footage captured the Russian captain responding to abuse from the fans in where he claimed his country’s failure to advance from their group was not the players fault but could be pointed towards the Russian fans and their expectations.

Although the words were not said on an official platform it has been enough for members of the Russian football union to condemn his lack of remorse and question his status as captain of the team.  Ideally this controversy will blow over as soon as possible especially if Arsenal harbours plans to sell Arshavin back to Zenit St Petersburg. Factors like this could affect negotiations over any transfer fee and Arshavin’s decision to move back to Russia if he falls foul of the Russian public.

Enjoy your day people

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Walcott scare, M’vila close, Van Persie to sort out future soon – AFC

Theo Walcott has caused concern in the England camp after limping off from training citing a tightness of the hamstring as the cause. For Theo to miss out in the next game would be a big blow after the impact he made in the last game against the Swedes. The biggest message you can send out to the manager when you are aggrieved at not starting games is to show him what you can do when you come on the pitch. Walcott’s goal and assist was the perfect response and a chance in the starting line up for the next game was not an impossible outcome.

We all now know Roy Hodgson has carefully selected the best teams in his opinion that was best suited to play to his specific tactics. James Milner has left many scratching their heads at his worth to the team given his unspectacular performances. In his defence he has played to Roy’s expectation and is more unsung in the role he is asked to play. He has been a helpful assistance to Glen Johnson on the defensive side and can whip in a decent cross on the offensive side of England’s game. There are times when Milner’s robotic attention to detail is required and times when the more gifted, talented attacking players are needed.

I think that maybe Milner would have been selected ahead of Theo for the Ukraine game anyway due to the fact England won’t be going into the game desperate for a win. They wont need to get at the Ukrainians from the start so I feel Hodgson will opt for a more cautious approach from the off. Rooney will probably start but in midfield personnel will probably be the same as was used for the Sweden game.

It would still be a shame if Hodgson didn’t even have that dilemma to contemplate a switch but any impending injury will save him from criticism if England failed to qualify and he did not start the Arsenal forward. Theo did give us a scare during the Sweden game when he went down clutching his leg but that injury at the time was from his calf so today’s is unrelated. Theo has seemed to aggravate the hamstring which kept him out of the team during the tail end of the season; hopefully this has been spotted early enough to not keep him out any longer than Tuesday’s game.

The news has filtered around that Arsenal’s first game of the season will be a home game against Sunderland. Source of this is from RedAction who may well be correct but since the fixtures will be released today 9am UK time I see no need to read into this too much. I’ll prefer to wait and see when they are out which will probably be by the time you read this post. I will be more interested in the games that occur around our jinx month November, The Christmas and New Year’s fixtures and the run in towards the end of the season.

It was nice to hear quotes from M’Vila that he is aware of Arsenals interest and that he would be interested in a move to the emirates.

He said:

 “I like Arsenal and I like the premier league”.

He then followed up with:

“I don’t know what is happening with the clubs, but yes I would be interested in the premier league and Arsenal.”

That’s the most positive quotes from all the players that have been linked to Arsenal since the season end so far. I now believe that transfer will happen once the Euros are over, not before though.

Robin Van Persie’s Holland team bowed out of the Euros with a whimper last night. I think many Arsenal fans secretly wanted the dutch to leave the competition early so that the future of our skipper could be sorted out as soon as possible. After Robin’s amazing season for Arsenal a lot was expected of the dutch master at Euro 2012. Even he must admit he hasn’t covered himself in glory at the tournament and his stock and ego has suffered a bit of a hit. Lets hope he can now decide whether he wants to stay at Arsenal quickly and look forward to atone for his disappointment as soon as possible.

Enjoy your day people.

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Update: RedAction were right. It has now been confirmed Sunderland home is the first game followed by two away trips to Stoke and Liverpool. Final game will be away to Newcastle. I will need time to digest to run the rule over the fixtures and will comment in a future post.