Can Tottenham's Townsend steal Walcott's England place permanently?

Will rising Hotspur player saddle the England winger role at expense of Arsenal rival?

The raging debate over who possessed the greater winger has long grasped the fan-bases of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur as both claimed that, with their respective right midfielders - Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon - they had the more influential and effective difference-maker.

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However, such an argument has drastically faded due to the break-out nature of the Gunner's season last term. In comparison to Lennon, it was really no contest as he returned 14 goals to Lennon's four, ten assists to Aaron's seven while also enjoying an average of two shots per game (with 60% on target) next to the Tottenham man's one shot every two games (with 50% on target).

Where Lennon surpassed his rival was his activity in retrieving the ball as he made 41 tackles (70% successful) compared to Walcott's 16 tackles (93% successful) while also making - and completing - more passes (879 next to Walcott's 531) and creating far more chances despite them not being turned into assists (67 next to Walcott's 38).

A 24-year-old with 36 international caps and five England goals, Walcott is not currently involved in Roy Hodgson's latest selection as the space-finding forward is occupying the physio's room with a complex abdominal injury. Lennon, 26-years-old with 21 caps, is also absent from the senior squad.

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But, providing Hodgson does not choose the more experienced James Milner for Friday and Tuesday's must-win qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland, the omissions of Walcott and Lennon could see Spurs academy graduate Townsend saddle the winger position for himself.

'For a young player to come into the team and have that consistency, staying in the team and playing like he did against teams like Chelsea… that’s fantastic,' said Jermain Defoe, talking up Townsend to the official website of Tottenham Hotspur. 'He was one of best players on the pitch that day.'

In 487 minutes of Premier League action, Townsend has recorded a 50% shooting accuracy (eight shots on target, eight shots off), has created nine chances and completed 87% of his 192 passes. If there is one area he needs to work on, it's his crossing accuracy (just 13%), but has won plaudits for his direct passages of play, his confidence and has even been compared to Bayern Munich and Netherlands star; Arjen Robben.

If selected, even if it is coming off the bench, Townsend would represent a different type of player than the rest of the midfielders called-up for duty. And, if given the chance to shine like he has done under Andre-Villas Boas at White Hart Lane (even troubling seasoned full back Ashley Cole), would his still-developing yet mercurial ability close the door of opportunity for Walcott to regain his place?

Is Townsend a better option for Hodgson than Walcott would have been had the Gunner been available? Let us know in the comment section below…

images: © wonker, © wonker

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