Arsenal's Euro 2012 involvement really came to life last night thanks to Theo Walcott. It's fair to say that the tournament had been a fairly frustrating watch for Gooners up to this point. The introduction of Theo for the final thirty minutes last night, with England staring at the exit door, was to change all that. I said on this site, before the game against France, that England needed to get pace in to the side. They had been sorely missing it until Walcott was introduced to scare the life out of the Swedish defence. I am among his fiercest critics, but Walcott's display last night was heart warming and utterly memorable. There are many who believe that Walcott is often more effective when entering the fray as a sub against tiring defenders. Last night he certainly fitted the bill in that regard.
England's team selection was as expected, with Theo and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both left out of the team. I was pleased to see Andy Carroll up front with Welbeck. I thought the two were excellent throughout, with Welbeck's tireless running finally rewarded by scoring the winning goal. The thumping header scored by Carroll was vindication for Roy Hodgson and his tactics. Having two proper strikers gave England more options going forward, even if the movemnt of the ball remained pedestrian at times until Walcott was introduced.
A number of England players did well last night, I thought. Apart from those already mentioned I felt that Glen Johnson was superb at right-back, while Joelon Lescott was carrying John Terry at centre-half. In midfield Scott Parker did the work of two men up against the powerful Swedes. The big disappointments for England were the aforementioned Terry (who seemed to play with lead in his boots), Ashley Young (for the second game running), James Milner and Steven Gerrard. I know Gerrard provided the cross for Carroll to score, but apart from that he was largely anonymous, and his selfishness when robbing Chamberlain of a first international goal would have cost England had Sweden been able to grab an equaliser. Sadly it always has to be about "Stevie Me" with Gerrard.
The introduction of Walcott changed the game entirely. Had Gerrard passed to him on a couple of occasions he might have had at least one more goal. While you would have to question the goalkeeper for Theo's goal, it is impossible to argue with the quality of the strike. It is exactly the sort of thing I want to see him do more for Arsenal. The same applies to the run and cross for Welbeck's winner. For once Theo didn't look afraid. He had the confidence to go for it, buoyed by scoring with his second touch of the ball. His performance was truly outstanding, and I hope he gets all the praise going. He has certainly given Roy Hodgson some decisions to make in the final group match.
I told you yesterday how I would be doing some writing at Arsenal Zone. You can read my first post, about Nicklas Bendtner, by following this link . I'll be back here tomorrow with more from Arsenal's players involvement at Euro 2012.