When Theo Walcott signalled the 2-0 scoreline to the embittered, coin-throwing Spurs fans as he was carried off at the Emirates, little would he know that his World Cup dream was over. Again.
While his absence robs England of some star quality and is clearly a personal blow to the Arsenal winger, who will be 29 before he gets another shot at the World Cup, it’s not a disaster for England.
Here’s why we think Walcott will not be missed…
1. He’s more influential for Arsenal than England.
Five England goals in 36 games is not a great haul, particularly given that three of the five were in the same game (the other was a deflected strike against Sweden in Euro 2012 and the other an equaliser in a friendly against Scotland at Wembley). Walcott, who has a one in four scoring record for Arsenal, has never hit top gear in an England shirt and his impact in international football is exaggerated.
2. He’s injury prone, not the best for tournament football
Is it wise, when the matches come thick and fast, to rely on a player with such a long history of injuries? The World Cup will throw up games every four or five days and Walcott just isn’t built for that. It would be a safer option to field a player who is more likely to go the distance.
3. His speed is an asset, but the best option in the heat and humidity of Brazil?
In 35 degree heat with 100% humidity, Theo wouldn’t have been doing that much running anyway. In these conditions, where possession is king, it’s all about making the opponents do the running. Walcott is not the best at retaining the ball and may have found himself down the pecking order anyway.
4. Emergence of Townsend, Sterling and Lallana eases the pain
The hullabaloo surrounding Walcott’s injury was somewhat hysterical given Walcott’s very average England record. Andros Townsend, England’s guiding light in the crunch Autumn qualifiers, Aaron Lennon, Raheem Sterling, Ashley Young and Adam Lallana are all capable of filling the void in the wide areas for England.
5. Not central to the England team
Had this injury been to Rooney or Gerrard, then England fans could start to mourn their World Cup hopes. Walcott is an outlet rather than a creative force, and his searing pace and sharp finishing can be replicated by others.
Walcott-less Arsenal take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Monday - check the latest match odds.