Arsenal winger Theo Walcott too one-dimensional for England
The way Gareth Southgate tells it, Theo Walcott wasn't very happy to be left out of his latest England squad.
Walcott is on course for the most prolific season of his career, with 17 goals in all competitions, but was still omitted from Southgate's squad for the upcoming international break on Thursday, ruining his 28th birthday.
According to Southgate himself, Walcott "wasn't chuffed" when he was told he had not been picked, and pointed out on a phone call: "I'm one of the leading goal scorers in the league."
But the problem for Walcott seems to be his lack of production in other areas. While it's certainly true that Walcott has been scoring an impressive amount of goals for a winger, the statistics show that he remains a fairly one-dimensional player.
Walcott's game has always relied heavily on his speed, which has defined him as player ever since he made England's 2006 World Cup team at the age of 17. But perhaps he has been too reliant on that pace. Unlike players like Wales and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, he has failed to develop an overall skillset that matches his athletic ability.
Walcott makes great runs to get into scoring positions, yes, and he's a decent enough finisher these days. But in terms of all the other traditional aspects of being a winger, he lags well behind most of his top rivals in the Premier League.
When comparing Walcott's league output to players like Liverpool's Sadio Mane, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, Tottenham's Son Heung-Min and even teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (who did make the England squad), he is last in categories like chances created, key passes, passing percentage, successful take-ons and assists.
Here is a look at how he stacks up:
Premier League games: 20
Chances created: 11
Key Passes: 9
Successful take ons: 32
Sadio Mane (Liverpool):
Chances created: 42
Key Passes: 37
Successful take ons: 63
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City):
Chances created: 35
Key Passes: 30
Successful take ons: 66
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham):
Chances created: 29
Key Passes: 26
Successful take ons: 33
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal):
Chances created: 25
Key Passes: 21
Successful take ons: 47
In addition, Walcott ranks 235th in the league in terms of passes completed (with 336), and 206th in terms of total touches (with 744).
In other words, he does relatively little to create chances for his teammates, is less prone to take on defenders one-on-one and gives the ball away more often. And while there is no statistic to judge the quality of his crosses, a fair share of Walcott's wayward deliveries into the box this season have drawn groans from the Emirates crowd.
Walcott is no doubt a unique talent, and a very strong argument could be made for why he would be useful to England -- at least as a weapon to bring off the bench. But if he ever wants to make himself undroppable, he needs to look beyond the goals and make sure the rest of his game is just as impressive as his speed.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.