Last night a chap came to my house to sort out mine and the missus’ wills. He and I got chatting about England and he wanted to make it back home in time for the match at 7.45pm. He asked if I was going to watch it and I told him I would rather head over to Pizza Express for an evening out with The Management.
This morning I’m wondering how many Englishmen would have taken my option with the benefit of hindsight, because it seems that Southgate hasn’t just inherited the boring football of his two predecessors, but he also doesn’t really know what to do with them either.
Of course from my side I just want to hear that all Arsenal players are fit and healthy, although it is nice to hear that they’ve played well, but it doesn’t appear that was the case yesterday with Eng-ger-land. I’ve read that Walcott was quiet and Gibbs didn’t even get on, so I’m assuming that we have nothing to worry about there, but for the German national team Özil came off at half time. Immediate rumours suggested the German boss Low just wanted to give a bit of rotation to his side, who were already two up and cruising, so if that’s the case then happy days. It seems to be because Özil took to Twitter to say as much afterwards.
It means Özil is a little more rested and hopefully can recover well enough for the game on Saturday, which is that most delicious of things: a 3pm kick off.
As for the the rest of the players, it seems as if we’ve navigated another interlull with little damage, which is good to hear. Obviously we need confirmation from the manager when he takes to his press conference chair on Friday, but until then the signs and the rumours look ok.
I want to rewind on a thought I had about how Theo Walcott is supposed to have played yesterday evening and, given how I haven’t actually watched a single minute of the two international games that have just passed, I appreciate my view is limited. But what strikes me as something that I’ve seen with Theo, is that he’s never the sort of player who will take the game by the scruff of the neck. I mean that in no way to be a criticism, by the way, it’s just that he’s not that talismanic figure in any team he plays in.
Just consider his form this season, or any season when he’s had patches of playing really well, because I think he always seems to play well when all of his teammates play well. Just think about the Chelski game a few weeks back; he was an argument for man of the match, but Hector, Alexis, Özil and Iwobi all had impressive games too. So to me, I think Walcott is the type of player that will only purr when the rest of the Arsenal engine is working. When it’s not working – like England at the moment – he doesn’t stand out and drag the team through a match like Beckham or Gerrard did for their international team.
There’s actually nothing wrong with that, I hasten to add, because football is in fact a team game and the whole team needs to perform in order for a side to be successful over the long term. So it is with Theo. The difference between this season and last is that Theo is stepping up with his other duties, which is buying him some leeway when he has quiet games, as we’re all cutting him some more slack.
It’s why when I read that he’s had a poor game for England, I’m not that fussed, because I know the whole team was poor and that won’t affect Walcott for Saturday. Which is when he’s really needed.
So rather than rolling my eyes at the prospect of Theo going missing last night against England, I’ve become more accepting that he has games like this, but as long as he shows us on Saturday that he can be handy at both ends of the pitch against Swansea, then I’ll be happy to defend him in the wake of any criticism.
Roll on the weekend, as the end of this Interlull draws to an end, and we can start up with the proper football again.