The debate over Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon is always open with both players competing for a place in the England team, but despite their similarities in playing style, they are viewed differently. Walcott’s rise to fame came from his big money move from Southampton to Arsenal and despite not making a debut for the Gunners, he was called up to the England squad for the 2006 World Cup. Since then there seems to be high praise for the occasions when Walcott is showing the potential that has been put on his head from a young age. However, across north London, Aaron Lennon has been generally consistent for Tottenham Hotspur but without the hype and hysteria. So, why is Lennon not seen in the same light as his England team mate?
Despite Peter Crouch scoring the only goal in Milan last week that saw Spurs victorious, it was Aaron Lennon’s electric pace, close ball control and pass that made the move. It reminded me of Theo Walcott’s run for Arsenal in the Champions League at Anfield a few seasons back. Maybe Lennon is just a victim of the fame game when it comes to judging both of these players fairly. He never had the big money move like Walcott despite being a teenage prodigy himself making his debut at 16 with Leeds United. But the £1 million move to Spurs in 2005 wasn’t a deal that raised eyebrows unlike Walcott’s big money move to the Emirates.
Another contrast is man management. Lennon was signed under Martin Jol’s time at the club but was left out once Juande Ramos’ brief spell in charge started only for Harry Redknapp to show enough faith in the player to find his form again. Walcott however was signed by Arsene Wenger, a man known for nurturing young talent into reaching their full potential, so his progress has always been more highlighted. Whereas Lennon burst onto the scene without as much expectation and focus, but should this be the season where a serious comparison is made?
Especially looking at the England angle, who would you pick? For me it would come down to the formation of the team. I see Aaron Lennon as an out and out right winger who hugs the touchline and is able to beat the full back with his pace and trickery to put in a cross. Although Walcott has been groomed into this role at Arsenal, I believe his better position is playing in a forward role, either on the right or left side or down the middle with a target striker.
Both players have pace in abundance but I think Lennon being 2 years older than Walcott, is the more complete player at the moment. His displays in the Premier League and Champions League have shown more maturity in his play in terms of decision making, whereas Walcott, who has looked stronger this season does seem to go missing during some games. I was quite disappointed in his performance against Barcelona in the Champions League. As an England fan myself, this debate only has a win/win scenario as I believe both can be important impact players for future tournaments.