Arsenal forward Theo Walcott celebrates his 26th birthday today, almost a decade since arriving at the club.
Not many spend 10 years at one club, so first and foremost, special mention must go out to him for his longevity at the top level. Whether or not he will extend his stay at the club is another matter all together, given his contract situation.
Having said that, Walcott’s place in the team is under immediate danger and has left fans wondering if he has improved over his stay here.
The timing of the discussion may be unfair given his return from a serious knee injury, but Walcott continues to show traits of the frustrating teenager many thought would turn into a superstar.
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He should’ve easily had a hat-trick on Saturday against West Ham, but there still seems to be an issue with the England’s man finishing when he has time to think.
Much has previously be made of Walcott’s ‘football brain’, and he has done little to excel in that department over the years. However, when he moves on instinct, we have seen him produce some of the most outstanding finishes ever seen at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger has repeatedly refuted Walcott’s claims that he is a centre forward and the boss might have saved his career given the shift in footballing tactics. A centre forward at youth level, the need for a ‘fox in the box’ striker in a 4-4-2 is no longer favoured among modern coaches.
We have seen the likes of Javier Hernandez and Jermaine Defoe fall out of favour in recent years as manager’s prefer one up front and the aforementioned players are too small to lead the line, and aren’t sharp enough to shift wide.
Luckily for Walcott, he has grown into a wide right role, but analysing his link play closer and you’ll quickly identify that it isn’t his natural position.
In fairness to our No.14, what did we expect him to become? Just because his fee was set to rise to £12.5m as a 16 year-old, should he suddenly become the world’s next best player?
Walcott was shunted into the limelight at a very young age, the World Cup inclusion in 2006 didn’t help, but maybe he has become the player he was always destined to be, not the one England wanted him to become.
Theo Walcott is only 28 goals from becoming a centurion, that would be a monumental feet and should he remain at the club and injury free, he will no doubt reach that goal sooner rather than later.
The 16-year-old Walcott hasn’t turned out too bad.