Since the turn of the year, Aaron Lennon has been in outstanding form. His club exploits have been rewarded with not just an international call up, but a place in the starting eleven in England’s last two matches, the latter being a competitive qualifier. This is just rewards for Lennon as he has been absolutely sensational recently and much credit must go to Harry Redknapp who has made the youngster begin to realise his potential.
For Tottenham he has been consistently terrorising full backs this season, most notably giving Patrice Evra (arguably the world’s best left back) a torrid time in the Carling Cup final last month. Lennon too has added goals on a more regular basis and, perhaps more importantly for a winger, an end product in terms of crossing. It’s never been doubted that Lennon possesses the ability to take on players but what has let him down in seasons’ past is that he has frequently failed to produce a telling cross. However, he has upped his game in that department and proved that he could realistically become a top class winger.
Maybe the signing of David Bentley was a stark warning to him that his place at Spurs was in jeopardy. Possibly he needed a manager like Redknapp who will put an arm round him and tell him that he is the best, instilling much needed confidence in the young man. Lennon has been the subject of some harsh criticism for someone so young; he is still only 21. Because Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have set such exceptional standards, it seems to be that all other wide players are compared and therefore deemed not good enough in comparison. These players are rare commodities and it simply isn’t feasible for Lennon or most others for that matter to be thought of under the same rules.
Lennon’s two recent international caps have defined for me why he has come such a long way and although still a raw talent to an extent, showed why he has plenty more to come. Neither the Slovakian nor Ukrainian left side could handle him. He caused panic and chaos amongst both defences and particularly in the Ukraine game, his withdrawal killed any tempo or dynamism to England’s attacks. It was also apparent that he can pick players out more methodically when in crossing positions, rather than just hitting across the box in hope.
Although his finishing has also improved, Theo Walcott would still have the edge in that department but in terms of all round game I think Lennon is the best option for England on the right wing. He stretches defences and has better control when on the ball as well as having the odd trick up his sleeve, something that Walcott doesn’t seem to possess. It would be nice to see Lennon retain his place in the side but I get the impression that he is just keeping it warm for Walcott. The best Lennon can do is maintain his good form and take it from there. It could be worse though, he could be in the international wilderness like Ashley Young.