Remember when Theo Walcott joined Arsenal as a sixteen year old? Remember the media circus that followed fueled by the fact that the England manager at the time, Sven-Goran Eriksson, chose him to go to the 2006 FIFA World Cup despite him not playing a single game in the Premier League? How about the fact that he did not even play a minute of football at the World Cup?
What I remember is buying into the hype at the time and I remember waiting eagerly, like every Arsenal fan, to see Theo Walcott play a few minutes of the World Cup and then with Arsenal to see this extraordinary talent. What a massive let down when he made his full debut and the performances that followed made me wince every time he touched the ball.
However, despite his obvious flaws, two things about Walcott stood out for me. His calmness and confidence in front of goal and finishing were always good although chances came few and far between. Another thing was his directness, taking every opportunity to run at the opposition…and out of the field for a goal kick.
The potential has always been there and anyone who watched his amazing run against Liverpool in 2011 can attest to that but he was way too inconsistent and I faintly remember Arsene Wenger’s frustration boiling over at some point (I think it must have been when Walcott was 23 but quote me at your own risk).
Walcott’s development was too slow at the time.
Since then the Englishman has developed in leaps and bounds and is starting to look more or less like the finished article. He can be the difference and his runs are starting to mirror Thierry Henry. I agree with Arsene Wenger that Theo Walcott has goals in him but for us to see the best we need to play him through the centre.
He likes to play off the shoulder of a defender like Filippo Inzaghi but, unlike Inzaghi, the timing of his runs is perfect meaning he is caught offside very few times.
I am convinced Arsenal have a 20-30 goal striker in their ranks and his name is Theo Walcott!