Roy Hodgson’s selection of Arsenal star Theo Walcott over Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha is England’s biggest snub
Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott has not exactly been in fine form for his club this season. His lack of form combined with Wilfried Zaha’s solid play for Crystal Palace makes Roy Hodgson’s selection of the Arsenal star for the upcoming England friendlies over the Palace man very curious.
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Crystal Palace fans have understandably reacted negatively to the news that Walcott made the squad over Zaha. They feel it’s a continuation of Hodgson’s favoritism towards players from “big clubs” as opposed to the smaller Premier League sides like Palace
While I’m not inclined to believe in that line of conspiracy thinking, I do agree that it’s a highly questionable decision from Hodgson. By any objective stretch, Walcott has been an absolute train wreck this season.
His 6.67 Whoscored.com player rating is towards the bottom of Arsenal’s regular players and he only has four Premier League goals to his name this season. There’s a reason he’s found himself on the outside looking in at manager Arsene Wenger’s team selection as of late.
Subjective evaluation may be even worse for the speedy Arsenal man. Despite his claim to want to play as a centre forward, he routinely has looked ou-of-place in that position this season. His utter inability to exploit defenders with his pace is maddening for a player with so much of it. You’d think he’d find life easy in an Arsenal lineup alongside Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but that certainly hasn’t been the case.
On the other hand, Zaha has been a very consistent presence for a struggling Palace side. Despite the team’s recent slide (which I suspect was a huge factor in him not being selected), the tricky winger has been a model of consistency for manager Alan Pardew.
He is Palace’s fourth highest rated player per Whoscored.com and has appeared in 28 Premier League appearances for the Eagles. The only real criticism to his game lies in his lack of finishing ability. He gives his team a lot, but they have every right to expect more than the two goals he’s scored on the campaign.
Keep in mind though, that Zaha is required to spend a lot more time on the defensive end of the pitch than Walcott ever has. His contributions to a team go far beyond his offensive end-product. His work rate makes him more valuable than Walcott even if you believe the two have similar offensive abilities.
No one should be surprised that Roy Hodgson chose Theo Walcott over Wilfried Zaha. After all, the Arsenal man has the far bigger name and better pedigree. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an indefensible decision based on the play of the two men. It could cost Roy Hodgson dearly in England’s upcoming friendlies.