Happy Bank Holiday everyone… There’s been a lot going on in the World of Football, not really too much in the World of Arsenal… Yesterday saw England take on Japan and in all honesty, it was a dreadful game – yes England won – but the performance all round was quite bad considering we play our World Cup opener in 12 days.
From an Arsenal point of view, young Theo doesn’t look International quality and it’s a stark reality that I think we all knew – he doesn’t really look Arsenal standard either – sometimes we see players go through periods of bad form and bad play before they suddenly kick on and become massive players – we’ve seen it with the likes of Alex Song, Niklas Bendtner etc. And I just hope the same is for Theo Walcott – I hope he does go to the World Cup and I hope he manages to get some game time under his belt. We’ve seen that Theo can offer something very interesting to our team – he was dropped to the bench earlier this season and became a very good impact player. We’ve seen some excellent play – that run against Liverpool – the goal against Barcelona, but of course, these moments of inspiration have been too far between.
I’ll deviate from Arsenal for a while and review the England squad, which will be announced tomorrow, and take a guess at the squad:
Green, Hart, James;
Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Baines, Carragher, King, Terry, Ferdinand;
Barry, Carrick, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Lennon, Walcott, Joe Cole, Adam Johnson;
Heskey, Crouch, Defoe, Rooney
So after the friendlies, and the 12 minute cameo of Adam Johnson, I think he will be in the group with the likes of Lennon and Walcott. I think Capello will go for more midfielders – i.e. 9 and 7 defenders, because Milner can play right back and Barry left back if necessary and of course Jamie Carragher can both centre and right. If Barry is ruled out, which I doubt he will be, then Huddlestone would be the next in line. I feel quite bad for Scotty Parker who I think has had a better season than Barry, Carrick and Huddlestone, but seems to have been completely overlooked.
From an England point of view, I think Theo Walcott isn’t quite hitting the heights at International level, and perhaps should be used as an impact sub, where he has excelled for Arsenal. I just hope he gets some game time for England and can bring the confidence and competition of a top tournament into his club form.
I think the squad is announced at 10am, so we have another 12 hours before we here it.
In other international news, Van Persie had a bit of a knock in training with Holland and was pictured with an ice pack on his ankle. The news coming out of the Dutch camp is that there is nothing serious – but it has prompted many papers and blogs to write about Van Persie’s injury proneness for both club and country sparking questions about whether we should sell him or not. Now, whilst we all understand that Robin has been in the wars in the last few years, that doesn’t take away the fact that he is our best striker and along with Cesc is a truly world class player. For my 2 pence worth, I definitely don’t think we should sell Robin. When fit, he is a very very good player, skills, the ability to shoot from distance and the ability to create something from nothing. I think Arsene has identified that, yes – he is injury prone – but so damn good, that we need an extra striker to compensate for his absence…
Finally, let me get onto the final part of the World Cup Preview and the review of strikers…
Out of our forward 6 of Vela, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Arshavin and Chamakh, the first three will be travelling to South Africa playing for Mexico, Holland and Denmark respectively and in the last 18 months, you have to be reminded that their best form has all come at International level where all three are first choice. Hopefully we’ll see a bit more of all three of them and this will raise their game and bring them into the new season in good form.
Ones to watch: Nilmar, a 25 year old striker, Brazil. He’s form in the last couple of years has been patchy but I believe he has something dynamic about him. He’s been chosen ahead of Ronaldinho and Adriano, so that’s an accolade in itself…
Okay, that’s a wrap for today… More tomorrow (post the various squad announcements)….