England beat Denmark in a fairly interesting friendly this evening, and there were three Arsenal players on the field: Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Denmark's finest Nicklas Bendtner. But how did they do?
This was a game in which Fabio Capello had talked up the importance of Wilshere in England's future, and while he didn't wilt under the pressure, the young lad has played better games. He tackled extremely well, but at Arsenal he's used to having Song around him, which gives him some license to attack. Without his bleach blonde enforcer by his side, Eriksen (who looks awesome) had the better of him.
On the occasions when he did push forward, he passed the ball well and without fear. Capello will especially like the way he was able to link with Rooney, who must understand Wilshere's position, having also had a lot expected of him at a young age.
None of this is very surprising for any Arsenal fan reading. We all know what a great tackler he is, how skilled his passes are and how comfortable he is on the ball. But he's not a traditional defensive midfielder, not yet. Learning this new role for England might take five or ten games, but he definitely got off to a good start.
Walcott's evening looked like it would be a great one, his low cross after some nifty skill—all with one eye—to set up Darren Bent was fantastic. He also set up an offside goal for Lampard, and ran the whole night. But in a similar vein to Wilshere, England ask something different of Walcott that he's not used to at Arsenal.
Despite him having the attributes to be a great winger at international level, it's not where he excels. His job with England is limited to receiving the ball, taking on the man, and crossing it. Typical wing play.
At Arsenal he plays his best football as part of a three-man attack, where he is asked to score, to manipulate the defence, to make runs for through balls etc. They trust with far more attacking scope. It's unlikely England will ever adopt Arsenal's formation, but it would be interesting.
Finally, Bendtner showed just why football clichés exist. He, and the rest of the Danish team, proved football is a game of two halves. In the first half he was dangerous, linking incredibly well with Eriksen and being a constant nuisance for the defence. He also held the ball up really well. He himself will likely claim it was probably the best half of football in the world.
In the second half he was deader than my Carlsberg puns. I thought he'd been substituted until the camera zoomed onto his face. One could attribute his decrease in production to Denmark's lack of urgency, and England's superior substitutes.
Overall, it was a good day for Arsenal and England. How do you think they did?