Harry Kane Has Never Delivered For England When It Mattered Most

Now this is a conversation I have had with my friends over the years, it always crops up around international tournament time and yes that circle includes a Spurs supporting friend who vehemently denies the claim and counters with the accusation I have a bias in my argument.

It’s something I would always struggle to clear given my allegiance to the Arsenal but if the rose tinted glasses are removed and replaced with I guess a Saint George’s flag print sunglass then hopefully you can understand my thought process.

St George’s Flag tinted glasses

The timing of the discussion couldn’t be better timed as we head into a clash with Germany which could make or break our charge to the European Championships final. Following a very underwhelming contribution in the group stage Harry Kane really needs to come with the goods and 1. Prove to himself that the Spurs trophy barren spell can’t be contributed to his tendency to go missing in the biggest games with the most riding on them.

2. Prove to Europe and the rest of the world on the grand stage that he is the elite striker we hail him as in the Premier League and not someone who is a good fit around better players but not a talisman that leads by example and wins the biggest games on his own (minus penalties).

So what is the point you are trying to make I hear you ask. Well depending on your age you tend to look back on tournaments of the past and have various memories etched into your memory banks of moments of individual brilliance that changed or won games. The moments you look back and say that’s what made me fall in love with the game.

Sometimes it’s from your own country, who can forget David Platt at Italia ’90 with that game changing winning volley against the Belgians? How about more recently that Gazza goal against the Scots in Euro ’96?

Platt moment etched in legacy fans memories

Interestingly I saw a segment prior to our recent game against Scotland and Rashford and Foden were viewing footage of that goal and admitted having vague memories of it but a lot of history they didn’t know was revealed by the presenter such as the dentist chair celebration. Firstly it made me feel old but also made me realise how well it was remembered by those who witnessed it at the time. Iconic and goes down in legend as a great moment for England.

Yes it was just a group game but the sheer brilliance was memorable. There are always two things we remember the individual brilliance or THAT moment that turned a defeat into an all square situation or turned a draw into a victory.

Those old enough to remember  will recall Gary Lineker as quite a handy striker and not just the TV personality we see today and would remember some critical important goals Lineker would deliver when England’s hopes laid at his feet in international tournaments (‘86 and ‘90 come to mind).

Lineker scored key goals for England

Yeah but if he was so good why didn’t he win us the whole tournament you may ask.

Well the best can only do so much. The best teams more so that individuals win the biggest tournaments for most countries (shhhh Greece).

But there are many teams that may have not gone all the way but their stars, their Talismen delivered for them at key moments along their journey.

Think Cristiano Ronaldo always pulling it out of the bag for Portugal, think of Histro Stoichkov heroics leading Bulgaria to World Cup ’94 semi finals, Think Luca Modric producing for country leading to a World Cup Final and Player of The Tournament gong, Think even a youthful Wayne Rooney taking the international stage by storm at Euro ’04. Zidane, Xavi and Iniesta the list could go on and on.

World took notice of Rooney after his Euro ’04 moments

So I’m not just talking about individual isolated memorable moments but also the Star men, the headliners of a country delivering on the biggest stage for their country and proving why they were touted as such.

Now let’s turn our attentions to Harry Kane. He’s had two international tournaments under his belt now. Lead the line and yes walked away with personal accolade of Golden boot at the 2018 World Cup. But now putting you on the spot tell me that key moment you remember from Harry Kane that told the World (or even just you) Harry has arrived? That key moment in a game with everything riding on it he rose above his peers and dragged his country to victory?

Group games are important in the sense that if you do the business you then get to the meaty part of knockout football. Harry Kane has delivered plenty in group games but are they really considered the tension heavy games where everything counts? Apart from a final group game requiring a result to qualify, they generally are the ones where personal tallies can stack up.

In Euro 2016 he was the main man but I don’t believe he scored a goal in the tournament. Wayne Rooney was on penalty duties in those days so Harry had to deliver the old fashioned way. After navigating past the group stage Iceland awaited and we all know how that went down.  As one of the star men he was missing when it mattered most.

Fast forward to World Cup 2018 and yes he came with the goals alright. In group games he put the might of Tunisia and Panama to the sword. Built up a healthy goal record and was rested against decent opposition in Belgium.  In the knockouts he got the opening penalty goal against Columbia followed by blanks against Sweden and Croatia. The Sweden game not so much a reason to criticise as it’s a game that we all expected England to win. Against Croatia in the semi finals, the first real quality opposition we faced, that was the game where the Elite are expected to deliver. That was the game with everything poised we needed our talisman to provide and yet the only memorable moment from Harry Kane all England fans remember was him not squaring the ball to Raheem Sterling to make it 2-0 and potentially seal the game.  We went out, Kane went missing again and the rest is history.

Kane remembered most for this in England’s biggest game

This time around in 2021 Kane hasn’t even delivered in the group stages but the door is open for him to bury all the criticism and provide a performance or key goals to take England past Germany.

My argument is more so to the fact Harry Kane hasn’t delivered yet for England but he still has time to prove otherwise. Until then his CV reads:  scored loads v Panama and won Golden boot, went missing when needed most.

Until he does deliver when it matters I could reuse this article tournament upon tournament until he does.

I’m not biased at all. Just telling it as it is.

This post has also featured on Gunners Town site which I write for.

Is the Arsenal/Madrid business far from over?

The International break churns on, leaving football fans up and down the country yearning for domestic football to return. In all fairness the importance of the final group games to confirm qualification for the World Cup in Brazil has at least sparked some interest. England’s quest for qualification kept me firmly lodged in my armchair on Friday evening and the all-important deal breaker of a game against Poland will surely have me glued to the box. I just wish there were more Arsenal players to cheer on for the Three Lions to make it all the more worthwhile. No worries, a victory tonight will ensure that the seats on the plane for Brazil are merely being kept warm for the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott et al.

Anyway, enough of the mean old international break to slow down the momentum of the high Gunners fans are still on after the signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Arsenal’s record transfer signing is still a topic of discussion amongst football’s elite a good six weeks after the German signed on the dotted line at the Emirates.

Sami Khedira was quoted in the papers as saying the Real Madrid team seems weaker for the loss of the talented playmaker. Some may say the two players are close and it is just a sign of affection shown to a friend. Well, if Khedira misses his German colleague there is plenty of space here in North London for him to link up with his buddy.

ozil bromance

Over the years the closer link to Arsenal has been from Real’s Catalan rivals Barcelona with the likes of Emmanuel Petit,  Marc Overmars, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Thierry Henry to name a few who have hopped on an Easy Jet flight over to Spain for a new adventure.  The favour hasn’t been reciprocated quite so much.

Could the door that has been opened with the arrival of Ozil stay open in future? For much of the summer the pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain dominated the Arsenal transfer news. Real were prepared to let the Argentinian join the Gunners only for (depending on which rumour you believe) Arsene to pull out of a deal to focus on another target alleged to be Luis Suarez.

To be linked with Real Madrid players is a big thing for Arsenal; we are not talking about 18 year olds looking to gain experience but full international accomplished players. Higuain may not have been in his managers plans for the season but he was hardly an underperformer for the Spanish giants.

All those years back the signing of Davor Sukor was a big one for the Gunners, his lob over Peter Schmeichel at Euro ’96 was enough to place him into hero status. Although the move itself didn’t quite work out a great success it was one of the few times Arsenal were able to negotiate a deal with Madrid for a player and that cannot be understated. Especially when you look back to the years of Vieira speculation Arsenal fans had to endure summer upon summer it was quite an amazement that he never ended up at the Bernabéu after all that pursuit. Arsenal were always the team that had to fight to keep their better players if a team like Madrid came calling but the events of the summer gone have no doubt created a shift in the pulling power at the Emirates.

I mentioned Luis Suarez earlier and the Uruguayan could play a big part in potential future business between Arsenal and Madrid. It has been widely speculated that Suarez has been holding out for a move to Real Madrid. No such move materialized during the last transfer window but there are strong rumours that the move can become a reality in January. It could well draw the Madrid fans back to the Bernabéu in their droves not that the fans have been keeping away but the impact Suarez could bring could re-spark the underwhelming bang that Gareth Bale has produced so far.

benzema

Such a transfer could signal a move for Karim Benzema, the Frenchman seemed like he needed some convincing to join the Gunners when speculation arose in the summer. I am sure the impact that Mesut Ozil has had at the Emirates is likely to change the striker’s initial views.

Let’s see how this all plays out, a potential meeting between the Gunners and Madrid in the latter stages of the Champion’s League? A mouth-watering possibility that is sure to make tickets for the Bernabéu and the Emirates the most in demand on the market.

Enjoy your day people.

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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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Jenkinson Could Prove Answer to England’s RB Problem

Hello all, please enjoy the guest post. My views on England’s pursuit of Carl Jenkinson were addressed in an earlier post however I’m open-minded enough to see another persons take on the matter, enjoy.

Arsenal fans already aware of how far Carl Jenkinson has come on this past season will rightly agree that the young defender deserves a call-up to the England team. Although still 20-years-old, Jenkinson has excelled in the early stages of this season, filling in for first-choice Bacary Sagna at right-back.

Jenkinson has been one of Arsenal’s top performers and his nine appearances so far this season have coincided with the Gunners’ defensive tightening that has seen us concede just eight in 10. Wenger’s side once again look an attractive proposition with fans placing a bet on who wins Premier League. 

He is a different player to the one that started in Arsenal’s 8-2 drubbing of Man United just a year ago and he had Man City’s £6.2m man Scott Sinclair in his pocket last month.

So consistent has Jenkinson been that there were strong calls for him to be given an England call-up for last week’s international break but appearances for Finland at under-21 level means he cannot play for Roy Hodgson’s side unless the FA appeal for clearance to transfer nationalities.

There are strong hopes that the FA will get this matter sorted quickly, so that England can have a half-decent right-back in their defence for once. England managers have been somewhat restricted with the availability of international-class right-backs since Gary Neville showed clear signs of deterioration around Euro 2004.

Think what you like about Neville, he was a far better RB than his predecessor, Glen Johnson, was, and Kyle Walker is yet to make the position his own. Jenkinson has the potential to become a real leader for England and Arsenal, and hopefully he will be granted clearance to play for his country before the World Cup qualifiers are over

Still only 20, there is a lot for Jenkinson to learn but his performances this season for Arsenal suggest that he can go far for both club and country.

Article courtesy of Tom Brown

Santos to leave rumours, England continue Jenkinson pursuit – AFC

One round of internationals down one more to go, we are getting there. Less than a week left before we have premiership football back with our away game to Norwich. From Friday’s games the biggest talking point was the on-pitch assault of Theo Walcott against San Marino that has ruled the winger, striker forward out of England’s next game against Poland. We probably won’t see him in arsenal colours for at least a couple of weeks due to the injury, he has returned to arsenal for further treatment and so far no return date has been mentioned. Not ideal for the club though given our strength in numbers in midfield his absence won’t be felt as hard as in previous seasons.

Away from the England camp a few reports surfaced over the weekend that our very own Andre Santos could be in line for a return to Fernebahce. Understandably this season his opportunities have been limited due to the form of Kieran Gibbs in the left back spot. Santos also wasn’t helped by the recent court case and charges for speeding on the way to training. The negative impact from that incident surely would have influenced Arsene’s decision making when picking the starting XI’s this season.

Given the good start to the season winning teams don’t usually get shifted around for the sake of it, Santos just needs to bide his time and take his opportunities when they come. This logic doesn’t sit well with the gossip makers and the news of Fernabahce seemed an obvious assumption to make. Maybe there is a little truth in the rumour but our Brazilian no.11 took to twitter to express in his words the truth behind the talk.

In his tweets he disregarded the rumours of any deal in the making with the Turkish club. Just my luck that he decided to tweet all this in Turkish so I pretty much had to rely on Google translate to understand what exactly he tweeted. And in true Google translate fashion the words read back like something Borat would say. The main gist of the tweet is enough to make out that he denies the rumours. He did go on to state that if any move were to happen in future it will be made with consideration of what’s best for his family.

I think even Andre knows it would be silly to leave arsenal this season; there is no other competition for the left back spot beyond Gibbs. Knowing his injury record there will be plenty opportunities during a long season for the Brazilian to play.

England have not given up the pointless pursuit of Carl Jenkinson to represent England. Given the fact that England use our facilities at London Colney to train when they play home games Roy Hodgson took the opportunity to invite Carl to train with the senior England players before they fly off for their game with Poland. I noted in a previous post that I didn’t agree with this sudden pursuit of Jenkinson. The only motive I can see from the sudden interest is to ensure he represents England rather than Finland. The pursuit is not to have Carl in the team now, there is no shortage in the right back department for England and if Carl was to make the decision to play for England he will just end up on a long waiting list. Carl definitely deserves the plaudits for his performances this season but talk of England is very premature in my opinion. There is no way he would be selected ahead of what England has and there is no guarantee he will even be first choice right back for arsenal once Sagna is back to full fitness.

The experience of training with the England guys will do no harm in boosting his current sky high confidence so I have no problem with that. But please Roy don’t pick him for the next international friendly only for him to become a bit part squad player unless you honestly believe he can bring more to the current set up than Johnson, Walker, Richards et al.

Enjoy your day people.

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