Theo Walcott has always flattered to deceive for Arsenal and has never really become an automatic starter for England either, despite getting his first call up at the tender age of 16. He is now 28, and despite scoring a record 19 goals for the Gunners last season, he has been relegated to being a perpetual reserve unless we are playing Europa League or League Cup games.
Currently he has too many players in front of him in Wenger’s estimation, including Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi, and you are much more likely to see Giroud brought on from the bench during League games. But Walcott played last night and he was asked if he still has hopes of joining the England squad for the World Cup Finals this coming summer. “Of course.” he said. “That is why I need to be playing football, simple as that. But I need to deserve to be playing.
“So in this competition, cup games, Premier League when given the chance, I need to take it. That is the only chance I have to get back into the England squad.
“It is down to hard work. If I work harder than anyone else… I know my qualities, how good I am. I have got so much experience under my belt, there’s no reason why I can’t prove people wrong and get back in that squad. It is a very young squad and I feel like maybe a bit of experience is always handy coming into tournaments. But the manager picks that.
“As a player, you need to be doing it on the field first and foremost. That’s what I want to do. We’ll see where my football takes me.”
“I can’t lie, it has obviously been very difficult the way the season has started, compared to last season,” he said.
“I had such a big influence last year and the amount of goals I scored but now it has been a bit of a stuttering start to the season. But, I am focused, I am working hard as best I can do.
“There are opportunities for me in this competition at this moment in time. I am working hard in training, doing all the things on and off the field right, trying to look after myself, keep in shape as best I can, and be ready when the manager calls upon me.
“But I want to be in that Premier League team, simple as that. I want to play football. I enjoy playing in any competition. I am getting on now – 28 is not actually that old but in a football sense, maybe – but I want to play. I have obviously missed it. If I can express myself in any competition I am involved in, I am going to do it.
“The manager knows that I’ve always been there for him. I have managed to bounce back from worse things but it is just one of those things in football you have got to deal with. I am dealing with it in the right way and that’s to be complete focused. That’s all I can be.”
Just five years ago, Wenger had high hopes of our “British Core” dominating the Arsenal first team and providing half of the senior England squad as well, but right now we only have Walcott, Welbeck and Wilshere with any hope whatsoever of going to Russia. Danny Welbeck is the only one of those that has started in the Premier League so far this season, but he has since succumbed to his usual injury problems. In fact there is every chance that there may not even be one Arsenal player in the England side in the summer. Or do you think all three have got chances of getting there?