Monday, 3 October 2011

The Walcott Factor

At the end of last season I thought the time was right for Theo Walcott to make the transition from winger to striker. Unfortunately for Theo two factors stood in his way. First, we needed to change our formation and the secondly, Arsene Wenger believing he is ready to make the move.

Throughout pre-season Theo occupied the right wing and Wenger never gave him a sniff of playing through the middle. The arrival of Park Chu-Young makes than even more unlikely. Theo has netted a couple of goals already this season but his overall game has been poor and he sums up the poor attitude that demonstrated by this side at present.

We all witnessed Walcott's lambasting of Carl Jenkinson at Old Trafford and he might have had a point but the fact remains he was tearing strips off a youngster on the field of play. There are times and places for things like this and that was certainly not it. Jenkinson was later sent off. Walcott then took to the field against Swansea and displayed an arrogance that you would usually see in the likes of Thierry Henry. Although every TV production didn't show it, Walcott was booked at the beginning of the 2nd half. Theo was tussling with the Swansea Left Back (Taylor?) and he felt like he was being held back, instead of playing to the whistle Theo decided he was going to berate the assistant referee (whilst play was still going on). After it dawned on Theo that nothing was going to be given he launched into a tackle, fouled the full back and was given a deserved yellow. That in a nutshell sums up his attitude at the moment.

The summer saw us lose key personel in Fabregas and Nasri and I believe this has led to Theo believing he is a bit further up the pecking order in terms of status in side, he has been at the club for 5 1/2 years. This is a huge year for Theo, as he will want to make amends for his infamous axing from Englands World Cup squad. The summer could be defining in his career as he will have 12 months to run on his current deal. He doesn't look a player that is out to prove a point and strengthen his game, instead he's written a book ironically about growing up, fast!

Where has the innocent young lad from 5 years ago gone? Remember when he took a camcorder to Germany as he wanted to record every moment of such a brilliant experience?

I have no issue with players writing books but can't they at least achieve something in the game first? When I think of Theo's achievements I think of his hat trick in Zagreb for England (which is the only international game he's ever scored in), his tremendous runs against Liverpool at Anfield , goals against Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final and Carling Cup final and a hat trick against Blackpol. Not exactly an erray of outstanding achievements given most of the games didn't even see us win the actual game.

Theo couldn't have made it more obvious that he wants to play through the middle but the fact is that Van Persie occupies that role and Theo is never going to displace him. Wenger transformed Henry from a winger into a striker but the fact was Henry was a striker before his stint on the wing at Juventus. Walcott developed late in football terms and he's more manufactured and he has nowhere near the natural ability of Henry. So Arsene definitely knows best on this front and if I was Walcott I'd be out to prove a point.

Theo needs to influence games much more than he does. Look at the Dortmund game, in the first half Theo touched the ball 12 times, which to put that in context the next lowest was had 27 touches. (Thanks to @orbinho for the stat). Like any player he never likes getting subbed but his lack of consistency makes him an easy target when we have to look at alternative options. His best games for Arsenal do tend to come in Europe though and this season is already testimony to that. Goals at home and crucaially away at Udinese can not be overlooked, nor can despite his lack of touches in Germany, one did lead to an assist for Van Persie's goal.

The best barometer of Theo's lack of progressing has been the fact that many supporters already want Chamberlain in ahead of Walcott. Seems ridiculous but fans are tired of the lack of production on the right wing and AOC has been a sight for sore eyes recently.

That said, I just hope that Theo sticks at it. IF remains injury free and focuses solely on his game instead of writing books etc. Then I realise how difficult those two things are to achieve for him. He does have ability and Wenger is the best manager to guide him through this phase but if he determines that he's not ready then so be it. It'll not be long until he stabs Wenger in the back and seeks to engineer a move. Let's not forget the Bosman ruling now means players are much more likely to leave with 12 months remaining on their contract of which we have Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin and Song in the situation.

1 comment:

  1. A good piece, with sentiments I echo. He needs to both step up and grow up fast. On the pitch, not in the pages of an ill-conceived book.