In his weekly series Tom Exelby continues to assess the club form of the numerous hopefuls looking to secure a seat for the plane bound for the Ukraine this summer.
In a hanger in north London sits THE PLANE, alone, glistening under the intensity of 6 high powered lights. It is a site that represents the calm before a storm, but listen carefully, very carefully and you can hear a rumbling in the distance. It’s some way off, but it’s getting louder and louder. Ladies and gentlemen, the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bandwagon is in motion. The rise and rise of the rocket heeled Arsenal man is without doubt the biggest news for England fans but as football’s great and good scramble over each other to compliment the 18 year old, THE PLANE will not forget the efforts of other hopefuls.
Fulham, a team so English they play at a cottage only fielded 2 Englishmen as they destroyed Wolves. The continually ignored Danny Murphy will never make THE PLANE but Andy Johnson has a real chance – the “Bald (former) Eagle” was outstanding on Sunday. Involved in everything Fulham did he deserved a goal unlike Wayne Rooney who was completely anonymous until heading United’s opener at White Heart Lane. Jermaine Defoe and Ashley Young (twice) were also on the score sheet, but neither made the impact of the impressive Aaron Lennon who posed a constant threat, beating Evra almost at will.
It was a good week for the Arsenal trio of Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and in particular Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the three contributed to a fortunate win at Anfield and a heroic exit from the Champions League. Chamberlain dominated the latter contest as he outshone Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Van Persie whilst managing not to lose any limbs to Marc Van Bommel. Chelsea are now the only English representatives in the competition and are unlikely to last much longer; they were inept against West Brom. The only glimmers of hope coming from Daniel Sturridge who despite chaos all around him is maturing well. Frank Lampard considered by some to be too mature missed a good chance to grab an equaliser.
Paul Robinson put on a fantastic show as his Blackburn side drew with Aston Villa. Robinson who retired in August 2010 after saying “I don’t see myself as a number 3 or 4 keeper and find that role frustrating” surely would now consider a return particularly as he would be England’s number 2. In number 2 related news Ricky Lambert scared the shit out of the Leeds defence at the weekend, considering England’s latest captain Scott Parker started the season in The Championship perhaps the Southampton man can score his way into contention.
The one man shortlist that is Harry Redknapp suffered his second defeat in as many weeks as his halo began to slip. Barry from Berkshire told 606, as his knee jerked against the table “I hope Harry goes to England so we can save the money on sacking him!” No West Brom fans are talking about sacking Roy Hodgson…could we be seeing the start of a two horse race for the managers hot seat? Whoever is in charge they will be certain to take a large contingent of Manchester City players. Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and James Millner all featured as City efficiently dispatched of a Bolton side containing 5 Englishmen of their own, including Nigel Reo-Cocker once tipped as a future England captain, admittedly only by idiots.