There are a lot of highs and lows in professional football and two Arsenal players experienced different ends of the scale on Friday while playing for England. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both started the match for the Three Lions at Wembley on Oct. 12 as England successfully beat San Marino 5-0 to win their World Cup qualifier.
However, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was celebrating an historic goal for England, Walcott was helped off the pitch after just six minutes due to a chest injury. Walcott was nailed by San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini when they both raced after a looping ball. It appeared that the 23-year-old Walcott got there first and tried to lob the ball over the keeper.
However, the San Marino keeper kept coming and clobbered into the young winger. Walcott will now miss England’s next qualifying match in Poland on Oct. 15 and he’s expected to be out of action for about two weeks. This means he’ll miss the Gunners forthcoming game against Norwich next weekend and he might miss the European Champions League clash against German club Schalke on Oct. 24.
Walcott told friends that he felt like he was hit by a bus when Simoncini clattered into him. He was able to walk off the pitch without a stretcher after laying motionless for a couple of minutes and was later taken to get checked out at a local hospital. Reports said he was coughing up blood and it’s believed that he’s suffering from a bruised lung and possibly bruised ribs as well.
England manager Roy Hodgson said it was a fierce challenge rather than just reckless. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger undoubtedly wasn’t happy about it either. Hodgson said the keeper should have been given a straight red card for the incident and England should have been awarded a penalty. Simoncini caused a penalty about 35 minutes later when he took down Man United forward Danny Welbeck in the box and his United teammate Wayne Rooney slammed it home.
Wenger is used to seeing members of his squad pick up injuries in international contests and has spoken out against it for years. However, there’s no other realistic way of holding qualifying competitions for major football tournaments. In fact, Walcott was the recipient of another major injury when he hurt his shoulder four years ago while training with England for a match against Germany. He needed surgery to fix the problem. Also, former Gunner Robin van Persie suffered torn ankle ligaments while playing for Holland in 2009 and was sidelined for half a year.
Wenger might also feel that midfielder Jack Wilshere belongs in that category too as he originally suffered an ankle injury while playing with England against Switzerland last spring. The 20-year-old then aggravated the problem against the New York Red Bulls in a pre-season game at the Emirates a few weeks later. Wilshere hasn’t played a competitive game with the Gunners since, missing the entire 2011/12 season.
Wenger told the press a few months before Wilshere was injured that England needed to be careful with him since he played over 60 games the season before. Wilshere then started two games for his country within four days. Another Gunner to experience a low while playing for his country was Aaron Ramsey. The 20-year-old midfielder was stripped of the captain’s armband for Wales by manager Chris Coleman a week before his country’s 2-1 home win over Scotland on Oct. 12. He was then suspended for a game after picking up a yellow card in the contest and will have to watch Tuesday's match against Croatia from the stands.
On the bright side, 19-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain made history of sorts for England in the win over San Marino when he scored his first goal for his country in his eighth game. The goal means that he and his father Mark Chamberlain are the only father and son to have scored for England at the senior international level. However, technically ex-Gunner Ian Wright and Shaun Wright-Phillips have also achieved the feat, but they’re not father and son by blood relations since Shaun was adopted. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal also placed him as the fourth-youngest player ever to score for England behind Michael Owen, Tommy Lawton and Rooney.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dad Mark scored his one and only goal for England in a 9-0 rout over Luxembourg back in December of 1982 at Wembley. And speaking of records, Rooney’s two goals against San Marino give him 31 in his 77-game international career, which moved him ahead of Alan Shearer, Tom Finney, and Nat Lofthouse on the all-time scoring list. Rooney is now in fifth place on the list behind former Man United star Bobby Charlton, who scored 49 goals in 106 matches for his country.