Hands up who hates these International breaks? At the moment, we’re in the middle of an international break, the transfer window has closed and all the squads have been submitted to the FA and UEFA respectively… which really means there is no real news happening. No game preview, no transfer tales, the only thing I am interested in at all is how our players faired for their country’s games, and most of you will probably have watched the England game and to be honest, there was a lot of hype about it…. so le’ts start with Theo Walcott’s start yesterday and a little bit of analysis of his performance.
For England, Theo has been playing in a 4-4-2 formation and yesterday was no different. Capello employs a slightly more attacking formation for the wingers with the number 10 dropping deeper, thus, the midfield and forward line looked like this:
Walcott – Barry – Gerrard – Milner
Walcott could then get a little more forward than the conventional 4-4-2. Why I am making this point? Well, in order to compare the way Theo has been playing for club and country, it’s important to understand the comparison variables. Of course, the formation is a key component of that. In addition, managers ask players to do different things, and with Johnson overlapping at country level, it’s clear that Theo has a more disciplined wing role for country than for club.
Theo plays the right hand side forward line of a 4-3-3 for Arsenal and that is a different role. He often has 2 / 3 midfielders behind him (in Cesc, Song and Diaby). An example of the formation played for Arsenal would be:
Song – Diaby
Walcott – Chamakh – Arshavin
In this formation, of course, when defending both Theo and Andrei would drop to sit along side Cesc about 20 metres deeper than their attacking positions. But the key thing in this formation compared to England’s in that Song, Diaby and Cesc would naturally sit deeper than Walcott and that automatically allows Theo to get forward more. As well as get inside the full back more, acting in a more forward role, like a secondary striker.
The chalkboard for Theo’s shots against Blackpool, where he scored his hattrick this season is:
What does that show? Well, the majority of shots and the three goals (marked in white) came from a certain area of the box – this area is an area that a striker would occupy – and an area that Theo hardly got into when he played for England against Bulgaria. The couple of time when Theo did get there, he often had 2-3 markers around him.
So when comparing the impact of the player for country, unless he does some extra-ordinary, it seems like he will always get slated… Who Ate all the pies published the ratings of the England players, and Theo got a 5… which was worse than everyone in the squad apart from Glen Johnson who got a 4.5…
Theo Walcott: Despite the ‘new dawn’ he’s apparently undergone at Arsenal this season, I saw no real improvement from Walcott tonight other than his obedient positioning. Will have ‘flattered to decieve’ many onlookers by repeatedly exposing Zhivko Milanov with his pace, but the truth is he did little of consequence when given ample opportunity to do so. 5/10
Such brash branding of the performance of a player doesn’t take into consideration what the position is capable of – versus the expectation of a player based on performances of the player in a different position. If you play Jermain Defoe at left wing in a 4-4-2, I’m sure he will “flatter to deceive”. However, I don’t agree with the pundits when people say Theo didn’t have a good game. He played well, can inside, went outside and generally mixed his game. In all honesty, I’m not convinced of the passes that he received and it’s clear that we utilise him, at Arsenal, in a totally different way than he is utilised at country level.
Walcott will get another chance to impress the doubters when we play Switzerland this Tuesday in Basel… a game where I think he will be afforded a little bit more space…
Just before I go, if you’re on twitter then you’re probably already following WOA, @worldofarsenal, but a recent addition to the social networking site, is none other than our captain himself, Cesc Fabregas, under the name @cesc4official… and on the way to Argentina, he published this pic:
With the message: “Here I am with Pique on the plane! Yesterday’s great game! Here we go Argentina!”…
Quite a lot of travelling for our captain, first Mexico and then Argentina… let’s hope he recovers in time for Bolton at home next week – but it will be a very interesting game to watch, Argentina vs Spain…
Until tomorrow fellow Gooners…