Archive for Theo Walcott

Germany win U21 European Championship

Posted in U21 with tags , , , , , , , on June 29, 2009 by kemgooner

Germany u21 european final win

Germany U-21’s defeated the England U-21’s today 4-0,  with goals scored by Gonzalo Castro, Mesut Ozil, and two by Sandro Wagner.  It was always going to be a hard test for England who had three players out suspended for the match, two of them strikers, which left Theo Walcott up front on his own. Walcott was isolated most of the game and saw very little of the ball, and England had only one solid chance the whole match coming from a James Milner run and cross which found Adam Johnson whose backheel attempt deflected off his other leg and went wide.

Theo Walcott

Mesut Ozil was the star performer again for Germany, who along with scoring a goal assisted the first goal with a brilliantly placed pass to Castro who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.  Ozil, who plays his club football for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga, was certainly one of the best performers in this European Championship.  Tomorrow we will profile some of the other top performers in the tournament. And for our readers, which players stood out to you in this U21 Championship?

Finally, congratulations to Germany, winners of the 2009 European U-21 Championship!

Germany U21 winners

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The Silver Lining

Posted in Arsenal with tags , , on April 12, 2008 by marooner

I don’t want to be one of those plastic fans whose face-first dive into the world of football dries up as soon as their team has thrown every ounce of ambition straight down the shitter. Even though I feel well within my right to wallow in my own self-pity right now (having spent, I’d say, at least a grand on match tickets, shirts, stadium tours, magazines, membership subscriptions and the like, have pissed my boss off big time on numerous occasions by asking for days off work so I could go and see them play, and have only had about fifty minor heart failures during the season), I’m tired of mourning four thrown-away cup hopes (two particular cups spring straight to the front of my mind, though) and dwelling on the season that nearly was. I write this now as a Gooner, and as stupidly sentimental as it may sound, acknowledging that (almost) every cloud has a silver lining is, I’m quite sure, the only plaster strong enough to tape over my bleeding red and white veins. Time for some First Aid, Theo Walcott style. Hallmark that

 

That glorious run down the pitch, which for a moment caused memories of Thierry Henry storming through the Spurs squad fifty million years ago to flash through my mind, which should have and nearly did win Arsenal the match, was just one of the few glimpses we have seen lately of the just-turned-nineteen Pap’s Prodigy. He’s been hyped up so much in the last few years by senseless journalists hoping for another Wayne Rooney-esque English saviour (God knows they need someone to lift their fat-headed National Team), and I blame partly them for his apparent ‘slow’ development. But then again, what did we all expect? For a sixteen-year-old to automatically materialise into an English Thierry Henry and be banging them in left, right and centre every week? His talent may have been undeniably evident while he was playing for Southampton, but jumping up onto the big stage from there was a bit too much to ask of Theo Walcott. Arsene Wenger has done the right thing by him in allowing him to slowly flourish on the wing and not heap too much expectation onto the young lad. He’s given him the time the rest of us should’ve offered, to come into his own.

           

A few people have remarked just lately how horribly unfair it is on Theo, that each time he produces a moment of magic, his team are left shrivelled-up behind, defeated physically and emotionally. The first time was against Chelsea in the Carling Cup final, two short years ago. How raw that defeat still is. The Young Guns gave everything in that match and the lead-up to it, overcoming the likes of Liverpool and Spurs in breathtaking fashion. Theo broke the deadlock, but the combination of Abou Diaby almost breaking John Terry’s skull and Cesc Fabregas almost breaking Frank Lampard’s neck (not to mention the painful fact that we ultimately lost) overshadowed his first goal in red and white. Then of course there was that heartbreaking incident up north where, following Eduardo’s leg-break, Theo Walcott almost salvaged a deserved Arsenal victory. But no such luck. Another late penalty, and the events which followed killed not only our game, but our title hopes.

           

Just over a month ago, I said in great optimism that, if the same side that beat AC Milan in such astounding fashion turned up for the rest of the season, we would be well on our way to lifting trophies come May. I still stand by that. It’s just a shame a different side chose to show up for the remainder of the season.

 

In hindsight, that night at the San Siro almost feels now like a pointless waste. Yes, we screamed until our lungs burst when Cesc Fabregas scored that late goal, and we cried tears of joy at full-time- but for what? It was another stepping stone towards a Champions League cup victory, and our failure to overcome Liverpool has meant, some might say, that that 2-0 orgasmic performance was for nothing. I disagree. We showed on that night what we are capable of, and even though the goods may not be with us come next month, each memory of what those Gunners have overcome this season will lift us up and carry us through the next year. We can do it and we will do it. This just wasn’t our year.   

AC Milan vs. Arsenal: A masterclass in football

Posted in AC Milan, Arsenal, Football, sports with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2008 by marooner

One of the most beautiful exhibitions of football you will ever be likely to see was executed on Tuesday night in the first knockout round of the Champions League. The victim was an unlikely AC Milan side, current holders of the prestigious title, yet struggling to keep the pace this season in Serie A, even with names like Kaka, Pirlo, Maldini, Nesta and the young Pato (among a whole host of impressive talents) to boast. It took eighty-four minutes of slick, fluid football from their opposition for Milan to come undone- at none other than the cage of intimidation that is the San Siro- but when it happened it felt as if only the smallest degree of justice had been served for the travelling side’s hard work. The executors of such magnificent football? Arsenal.

Dismissed early on in the season as being a team of ‘kids’, criticised for trying to walk the ball into the back of the net, discredited for their absence of English players and ultimately disregarded as a top-four-finisher at best, who might finally fall below the apparent ‘emergence’ of their bitter North London rivals, Tottenham… All these qualms, much like their Italian opponents, fell apart on Tuesday night.

Arsenal stole the show in all areas of the pitch. Playing the four-five-one formation Arsene Wenger’s lately grown rather fond of in the Champions League, with Alexander Hleb sitting in the hole just behind Emmanuel Adebayor, ultimately it was Arsenal’s midfield which truly bossed the game. Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini, in particular, had the best of nights. Statistics from the match showed that Fabregas covered seven and a half miles in just ninety minutes, while Flamini covered over eight. Hardly surprisingly. The two of them were truly ubiquitous; while Fabregas drove forward and kept looking for that goal which seemed to threaten at all times, his partner in crime hung back, his presence overwhelming Milan’s renowned attacking force. The Frenchman had Kaka- hailed the greatest player in modern football, and with good reason, too- in his pocket virtually all night. There was a period of ten or fifteen minutes in which Arsenal sat back slightly and allowed Milan to see more of the ball, win a few corners and exert their presence- but Arsenal’s defence was outstanding, and when the brief period of Milan dominance ceased, it was hard to see how the result could go any other way.

And yet, when the goal finally did come- a low, fierce shot from Cesc Fabregas, thirty yards out- it was almost as if the goal had been dreamt. Silence engulfed the predominately AC Milan-filled stadium while Fabregas stormed, wide-eyed, towards the man who justly put faith in the young Spaniard two years ago in a series of Champions League fixtures already hugely reminiscent of Tuesday night’s glories. Memories flashed of the then-eighteen-year-old ‘kid’ sliding the ball past Buffon in a piece of vintage Arsenal class. Two years later, and he is back to storming down a pitch that he had, for the past eighty-four minutes, owned. One-nil Arsenal, and it would take two unlikely Milan goals in ten minutes to undo Arsenal’s blissful performance.

But if another goal was going to come, then it was inevitable that it would belong only to Arsenal. Theo Walcott, brought on with twenty minutes left to play for the yellow-carded Emmanuel Eboue, showed a mere glimpse of why Arsene Wenger splashed out on a virtually unknown sixteen-year-old more than two years ago. It’s been a long and, most likely, frustrating journey for the English starlet, who turns nineteen in less than two weeks, but one in which the road seems to be widening. Two minutes into stoppage time, Walcott made a bursting run down the right flank, shrugging off Kaladze to square the ball in to Emmanuel Adebayor, who promptly slid the ball home, scoring his first Champions League goal, and securing Arsenal- and an English team’s- first ever victory against AC Milan at the San Siro.   

It would be foolish now to begin hailing Arsenal near-definite favourites to steal the double, to go on and win both the Champions League and the Premier League. Let’s not get carried away. A host of strong, talented European teams still remain in the competition, and all is still to fight for back at home. Yet, after a series of disappointing results in the domestic league, beating AC Milan with such relentless class may well give the team the boost needed to achieve their very obvious capabilities. Wenger himself commented prior to the match how he thought his team had forgotten how good they were; perhaps this was the victory they needed to remind them.

And maybe the pundits were right when they said you can’t win anything with kids. But if the same side who pulled apart Milan turn up for the rest of the season, then Arsenal will only be looking to win things with men.