Arsenal striker Theo Walcott has been told to be more aggressive by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger as he prepares to lead the line for England.
Walcott, who put in arguably his best performance in an Arsenal shirt in the weekend’s 3-0 win over Manchester United, has revealed Wenger has tried to an add an extra dimension to his game ever since he returned from knee surgery in February this year.
Walcott saw his World Cup hopes ruined last summer after he jarred his knee in the north London derby in January 2014 – an injury which eventually needed surgery – but the 26-year-old is back in action now and Wenger’s pep talk seems to have done him the world of good as well as the first-hand influence of Alexis Sanchez.
“Maybe he [Wenger] has sensed I’ve had more aggression,” said Walcott, who performed a superb sliding tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger at The Emirates.
“When you are tracking back and tackling people like Schweinsteiger – people wouldn’t imagine that Theo Walcott is going to tackle Schweinsteiger.
“No, it’s never going to happen.
“But again that’s going back to Alexis [Sanchez] as well – what he does differently – I think it’s important to be aggressive. The game’s getting more physical. Everyone’s getting better and you see it this year in the Premier League. It’s so open. Everyone can beat each other this year.
“I actually asked, ‘Do you want me to start kicking people?’, added Walcott.
“That was my reaction. He said, ‘No, I’m not saying that’. He wanted me to be more aggressive in terms of running at players, closing them down, tracking back, being there and in their faces.”
Wayne Rooney is expected to miss both England’s final Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia on Friday and Lithuania three days later due to an ankle injury that has prevented him from training with Roy Hodgson’s squad over the previous two days and Walcott is expected to fill the void.