Derby County vs Watford Preview: Rams target successive wins in televised fixture

Rooney: “I Knew Where I Wanted It To Go” - Blog - Derby County

Derby needed a late free-kick strike courtesy of captain Wayne Rooney to help them snatch their first Championship win of the new campaign away at Norwich on October 3, despite being outplayed for large periods. On their return from international duty, can the Rams string together successive league victories as they look to kickstart the season here?  Continue reading

Why this is Walcott’s perfect opportunity to shine – for club and country

With another goal for England during their 2-0 home victory against minnows Estonia on Friday night, Theo Walcott has now scored seven goals in his last nine appearances for both club and country.

Wayne Rooney’s absence (ankle) from the final Euro 2016 qualifiers is a notable one, especially given the fact that the Manchester United man has been a mainstay within the Three Lions’ set-up since he burst onto the scene over a decade ago.

However, his injury is a blessing in disguise from an Arsenal perspective. After a slow start to proceedings this term, Walcott has used his goal-scoring form as a benchmark, as he hopes to assert his credentials in order to become Arsène Wenger’s preferred forward choice on a regular basis.

Olivier Giroud – who has received a lot of criticism lately – is the other option for the Frenchman to ponder, and with matches coming thick and fast, he’d hope to have both players fit to choose from.

For all of his strengths, Giroud’s most frustrating tendency includes the fact that if he doesn’t receive service, he’s largely ineffective during a game. Walcott’s completely different in that respect as he creates opportunities out of seemingly nothing. His pace is an asset but there’s still plenty more to his craft than that.

Walcott has flirted with the idea of becoming a recognised centre-forward over the past three years, but until recently, hasn’t had a sustained period in which to try out the role itself. Injuries have hurt his development within the first-team, but his displays in-front of goal for England have been eyecatching to say the least.

Against Estonia, Theo was a constant threat going forward. On the counter attack, he’s a fearsome threat, and his sharp bursts of acceleration were key to pulling Estonia’s backline out of position to create gaps in-and-around the area itself.

His attacking movement has continued to improve as he’s matured, meaning he’s less likely to find himself offside and knows when to time his run before the ball is played, giving him enough of an advantage to strike at goal.

His effort on the stroke of half-time was the epitome of this – waiting patiently as his teammates eased their way towards goal. Some quick passes saw Ross Barkley on the ball, and his inch-perfect spot found Theo’s run with style as the defenders were caught chasing shadows in his wake.

Although he only scored once, he could have had a hat-trick on another day. Naturally, it’s exciting to see Theo in his preferred role, where he’s enjoying his football and is proving his worth.

With the unconvincing form of Harry Kane and Rooney in-front of goal this term, this could be Walcott’s biggest chance to force himself into another dimension – as England’s frontman, as well as Arsenal’s.