With England‘s striking options in short supply, Roy Hodgson has the opportunity to try something different and new against Brazil on Sunday night, which can come in the form of Theo Walcott playing as the leading striker.
England hasn’t played well in recent months and following Wednesday’s poor results vs. the Republic of Ireland, the negativity surrounding the team seems to have returned. One of the main factors as to just why the performance was so poor is partially the lack of quality available at Hodgson’s disposal, particularly the strikers.
With only Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott available as recognised strikers, there is now the chance for Hodgson to test out the latter as the leading striker, without the fear of it being judged as a bizarre decision if it doesn’t work out.
Walcott has shown to be capable goal scorer, having found the net for Arsenal on 21 occasions. You could argue that his goals to games ratio hasn’t been all that impressive, but you have to remember he has played a lot of the season on the wing. However, when playing as Arsenal’s central striker, he has shown the abilities required.
I’m not necessarily making the claim for him to be England’s first choice striker in the long term, but the team should give him a shot whilst they’re short. Under Hodgson, England has looked at their best on the counter and when playing fast-flowing football such as the Wembley win over Brazil.
Yes, Walcott doesn’t have the strength and ability to hold off defenders with his back to the goal. But from what Hodgson has available for Sunday night, the other options cannot claim to have that either. Defoe has been tried and tested over the years. We know he can get a goal, but he’s rarely proved of anything particularly special.
Rooney is far from the player that can be called a ‘match-winner’ currently, and hasn’t played as the leading striker for club or country for quite some time.
But Walcott has that positivity and pace that can stretch defenses and become lethal on a good day. As it’s only a friendly, I feel it would be a waste not to give a 24-year-old who has had a very good season for his club the chance in the position he claims is his own, when the other options are nothing new.
It’s been five years since that hat trick in Croatia under Fabio Capello for Walcott, but I think it is easy to forget just how young he is. It is easy to assume that just because he has been around the England setup for seven years (since the 2006 World Cup call-up at 17) that we have seen the final product.
But for a lot of players, this is the age when they first begin to make a name for themselves. They should give Walcott a chance whilst they have it.