In 2006, Theo Walcott signed for Arsenal Football Club. The English youngster, who spent the majority of his youth career at Southampton, used his blistering pace to overcome defenders with ease allowing him to gain an impressive reputation in the process.
He first properly introduced himself onto the football scene, when he became the youngest ever Southampton first team player, when he made his Saints debut at just 16 years and 143 days – a record that has not been broken, even with the recent rise of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Almost 6 years later, Walcott is still very much dependent on his speed. At times, he is unplayable – a term that’s been used by many managers of teams which have been unable to handle him. Even Pep Guardiola suggested that “you would need a pistol to stop him”.
Despite receiving such overwhelming comments, especially from a man who works so closely with Messi, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta – and the rest – Arsenal fans have become frustrated with the young winger.
Walcott was called up to the England squad for the 2006 World Cup at just 17 years of age, despite not even kicking a ball for the Arsenal first team. A hugely impressive, yet highly controversial move, which still to this day earns Sven-Göran Eriksson criticism – amongst many other things!
I often pity Theo, as before he was even able to prove himself, he was thrown immediately into the deep end. For a proportion of football fans, his move to Arsenal suggested that the young winger was destined to become a world-class footballer for both country and club. But after an on and off career in North London, that apparent guarantee seems to have halted.
Since his arrival at Highbury six years ago, he’s had moments where he has totally stunned the crowd, usually with his speed being the vital factor in his success. However, his main problem is that his level of consistency is not good enough. His history on the treatment table deserves a mention too.
He has the potential to become a great player for both Arsenal and England. But for me, the problem boils down to the seemingly-obvious fact that he lacks a footballing brain. Admittedly, I sometimes question how he even made it as a professional footballer – until I see him running, of course! His shooting skills can be refreshingly impressive at times, but generally, his finishing in front of goal is predictably disappointing.
I’m no Arsene Wenger – obviously. But I do have a suggestion that could help Walcott out. When we are defending a corner, why do we get everyone back?
Players like Walcott and Arshavin are not needed inside the box. I’ll always stress that these players need to stand further up the field, ready to become part of a quick breakaway. Not only could it lead to a possibility of a fast counter attack, but it would also force the opposition to bring players back, giving our defenders a more comfortable advantage to prevent the aerial threat.
This piece isn’t a dig at Theo Walcott. Like I’ve said, I believe he has the potential to become a great Arsenal player. I really hope he proves me wrong and achieves great things at the club. But I’ll be honest, week after week, my frustration is growing. Of course, I want him to succeed and do the best he possibly can for the club, but his performances aren’t exactly filling me with confidence.
So, is he good enough to play for The Arsenal? At the moment, I’m tempted to say that he isn’t. But with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain knocking on the door, it seems that I’ll have a more concrete answer sooner rather than later.