WHAT A DAY OF FOOTBALL. Sunday was a truly sensational day for the Premier League. Even the Aston Villa/Liverpool game, so easily overshadowed by the Top 4 facing off, decided to grab a little bit of the spotlight by putting on a 6-0 massacre at Villa Park. Yet what was an even more impressive advert for the Premier League was the English goal scoring talent on display.
On Sunday, the first five goal scorers on the day were all English. Vardy, Walcott, Welbeck, Sturridge and James Milner. Add into the mix Harry Kane scoring Tottenham’s penalty and it was quite the day for English talent just days after Roy Hodgson brought together players across the Premier League for a little catch up with the Gaffer.
On Sunday morning, Roy Hodgson admitted that he was happy with England’s striking options for England and why wouldn’t he be? Vardy is the Premier League’s top scorer with 19 goals in the league; Kane is second with 16. Even Rooney has been one of the best performing strikers since the turn of the year and Jermain Defoe has somehow come up with 10 goals so far this year at Sunderland. England’s strikers seemingly have awoken to the prospect of a summer outing to France but Sunday saw two of the forgotten ones return to action, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge.
It really is something that Danny Welbeck could potentially not play another game of football again this season for Arsenal and he could have scored quite possibly the most important goal of their season. His last touch winning goal against Leicester City swung the title race a little bit more towards Arsenal but the game also represents Welbeck’s first appearance of the season. Eyebrows were raised when Louis Van Gaal decided to sell the Manchester United academy product, especially to a Top 4 rival in the form of Arsenal. Whilst Danny Welbeck has hardly been prolific for Arsenal, with long term injuries hampering the opportunities in an already highly competitive squad, when fit he has been a mainstay in Roy Hodgson’s England set up.
He is one of Roy’s go to men when it comes to England. 29 of his 33 caps have come under Hodgson, and Welbeck arguably scored some of England’s biggest goals in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2016. Both goals against Switzerland in Basel, 2 of the 3 goals against Slovenia at Wembley. All in all Welbeck nabbed 6 goals and 1 assist in just 5 games in the latest qualifying campaign and his return to fitness is as timely for Arsenal as it could be for England.
Sunday also finally saw Daniel Sturridge return to the field. Daniel Sturridge scores goals. He has played 352 minutes so far in the Premier League, across 6 games, scoring 3 goals. He has 5 in 8 in all competitions for Liverpool this year. Yes, injuries go against him over the previous two campaigns, but in that free flowing Liverpool team alongside Suarez two seasons ago, Sturridge scored 28 goals in 42 appearances for club and country. He must be one of the purest and most clinical strikers England have had at their exposure over the last decade. Rooney scores goals but his flexibility in positional play can at times water down his influence on the field, Sturridge doesn’t have as many feathers to his bow and in turn means that in and around the 18 yard box, he has one job – score goals.
Roy mentioned neither player on Sunday. When you look at the England team, despite his goal return, Vardy will probably be a plan B with Hodgson utilising Kane as a centre forward and Rooney in the no.10 role. Or if Hodgson does decide to start Vardy, would he play two up top? Vardy out wide left with Walcott potentially down the right? Either, or, Hodgson has something that not many England managers over the last 15 years have had at their exposure and that is an array of attacking talent going into a major tournament. Having a fit and firing Welbeck and Sturridge certainly complicates a very nice issue, and if both players did go onto to perform well between now and the end of the season for their respective clubs, both will be heading over to France this summer.
If this happens to be the case though, you have to ask the question, who will not be on the plane for the Euro’s? Oxlade-Chamberlin? Or dare I even say it, Raheem Sterling?
He hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in Manchester has he?
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog