Why Theo Walcott can become the next Robin van Persie
Written by Jeffrey on November 7, 2011 19:30
I, as are the majority of Arsenal fans, was at risk of over celebrating the 5-3 triumph over Chelsea. I know that for a team and manager that has been constantly criticised, that themselves have been on the receiving end of an embarrassing defeat and that had to rebuild following the sale of three key players, a win of that magnitude at Stamford Bridge was massive in terms of confidence and making the rest of the league take notice, and no, I’m not saying we can win the league – but I don’t want to squeeze every last ounce of gloating out of the result, I’m going to keep some preserved for later on.
However, just because I’m refusing to gloat about the result, doesn’t mean I can’t write about an aspect of the victory, Theo Walcott’s performance and goal.
Signing for Arsenal in a multi-million pound deal and going to a World Cup all before the age of seventeen is hardly the most inconspicuous start to a career and the pressure on Walcott to become a superstar was placed upon him before his career had properly begun. So what has become of Theo since then?
His first goal for Arsenal came in the 2007 Carling Cup final and he has scored thirty-four more in one hundred and twelve starts. At international level, he has played twenty times for the Under Twenty-One’s scoring six times whilst that famous hat-trick in Zagreb is his only goals for England in nineteen appearances. With the Young Sports Personality of the Year award being his only silverware apart from a few runners-up medals, it’s fair to say that Theo Walcott’s career has hardly took the route that his early reputation would’ve suggested it should have taken.
A mix of inconsistency and bad luck with injury has meant that the player who was once described by Lionel Messi as “one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against” hasn’t reached the level that occasions such as the Chelsea game, show he can reach.
Many people criticise Walcott and though at one point in time he was my favourite player at Arsenal, even I have found myself criticising his performances.
However, he’s only 22. To make 124 appearances for Arsenal by the age of 22 isn’t bad going and as he’s still learning, he’s bound to make mistakes. It could be argued that Wenger should’ve signed a more experienced winger to fill the right wing position until Walcott had developed more but the fourteen goals and nine assists that Walcott contributed last season and the four goals and two assists already recorded this season suggests that Wenger’s trust in the ex-Southampton player was just and that Arsenal are now reaping the benefits.
It’s also important to remember that according to Walcott himself, he’s playing out of position, having to take up a right wing role even though he see’s himself as centre forward. It’s hard to see him ever playing this role given the fact Wenger changed the formation from 4-4-2 to more of a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with a more physical striker (van Persie, Chamakh and Adebayor before hand) taking up the central striker role.
I personally believe that Walcott could make a decent centre forward but playing right wing makes the most of his obvious strength, his pace, as shown by the way he tormented Ashley Cole against Chelsea.
So where now for Mr. Walcott? If he continues on his current form in which his performances are noticeably improving, he can become a pivotal player for Arsenal in the foreseeable future whether it is on the right wing or as a more central attacker.
Going down this route would echo the journey of the man who’s not just the man of the moment, but the man of the year, Robin van Persie. In his first two seasons for Arsenal, van Persie scored 21 goals for the club, a tally he beat solely in last season showing the vast improvement since his arrival from Feyenoord.
In the 2006-2007 season, van Persie then scored 13 goals and added 8 assists before only managing 9 goals and 5 assists in the season after. However, following the 2008-2009 season in which he managed to score twenty goals whilst contributing 15 assists, van Persie hasn’t looked back.
Though he only managed 10 goals in the next season, he only appeared twenty times for Arsenal and his development into Arsenal’s most important and influential player was continued with 22 goals in 33 appearances during the 2010-2011 season and 12 goals in 15 goals the following campaign. Now I’m not claiming Theo Walcott will repeat those stats but his high goal and assist tally of the past two seasons would suggest he has the ability to do so.
Though I feel that we should have the best players of any nationality at our club and not just sign players because they are English, my want for Theo to become the player most think he can be is because England would also reap the rewards.
Theo may decide that he can’t fulfill this potential at Arsenal and ask to leave but I don’t think he’ll think that, at least for a few seasons yet. Theo Walcott can be pivotal in helping Arsenal end their trophy drought. His pace is unrivaled and with a bit of hard work, determination and consistency, I believe so can he.