Daily Archives: June 1, 2010

Theo is a no-go

So, Theo Walcott, who languished on the bench four years ago, will be languishing back in Blighty this summer as the rest of his England mates jet off to South Africa for the World Cup. He’ll have Darren Bent and Adam Johnson for company, too. And, assuming they can find a course close enough to Leighton Baines’ house to keep him from feeling homesick, maybe they can go golfing, which is apparently what Walcott was doing when he got the bad news call from Fabio Capello. Like Geoff Hurst, I’d have preferred Johnson to Shaun Wright-Phillips and Bent to Emile Heskey. Of course, with Johnson you probably don’t want or can’t find room for Walcott  too, even if it’s just as a pacey substitute late in a game or in extra time. As much as I like Johnson I’m happy to see Joe Cole in the squad, even if Chelsea don’t think enough of him to keep him at Stamford Bridge. He can come to Tottenham anytime.

On the subject of Spurs, as a supporter I was pulling for England nods for Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone who, despite any mobility concerns, has shown flashes of being a top-class passer. Gareth Barry had better be healthy, and Michael Carrick had better not be crap. Matthew Upson and James Milner are safe choices, which is fine, no matter what ‘Arry thinks. And all of Johnson, Walcott, Huddlestone and Dawson wil have another shot in 2014.

Here’s how the final 23 looks:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.

Defenders: Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock.

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Forwards: Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney

On a non-World Cup note, I’m relieved to see Crystal Palace dodge the axe today. Liquidation would have been a cruel fate for a team with such a long history, even if recent years have been full of failure and financial woes.

Ian Harrison

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Dr. Z’s World Cup Predictions: Group D

Dentist by day, football prognosticator by night, our own Dr. Hadi Zogheib is scouting out each group at World Cup 2010 and predicting first round scores and standings. Even the good doctor can’t fix the injury concerns plaguing teams in Group D:

Germany: As ususal, Die Mannschaft will be a force in the tournament, although, on paper at least, this may be one of the weaker German squads to play in the finals. Already without their captain and leader Michael Ballack, coach Loew has been given further bad news that defender Heiko Westermann of Schalke will most likely miss the tournament due to injury as well. The good news is that Ballack’s potential replacement, Sami Khedira of Stuttgart, had a wonderful game against Hungary in last week’s friendly. The Germans will be hoping that Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger can continue their good form, or Bavaria will be drowning their sorrowsat the bottom of a stein very soon.

Australia: Once the punching bags of the world game, the Socceroos have become a model for the Canadian national team. Skilled and physical, the Aussies will be no pushover (just ask the Italians of 2006). Prem league fans will get a taste of déjà vu when they spot Harry Kewell on the pitch, but it will be Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer who will really be the ones carrying the load.

Serbia: The most maddeningly inconsistent team in Europe, the Serbs can play better than Brazil one day and then worse than New Zealand the next (as their result in last weekend’s friendly showed). If this team plays to its potential, they’ll cause an upset or two.

Ghana: With power, speed, and technique, Ghana was regarded as one of the teams with the potential to represent Africa in the semifinals or even the final…until they lost Michael Essien to injury. Now the West Africans will be hard pressed to make it out of this tough group.

Results:

Serbia 1-1 Ghana
Germany 2-0 Australia

Germany 2-2 Serbia
Australia 0-1 Ghana

Ghana 1-1 Germany
Australia 1-2 Serbia

Group Standings:

Germany 5 pts
Serbia 5 pts
Ghana 5 pts
Australia 0 pts

Related: Dr. Z doubts the host’s chances in Group A, expects Greece’s defence-first philsophy will pay off in Group B, and predicts an opening-round sweep for England in Group C.

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