After a frustrating first half against the enemy on Sunday he refused to let his head go down and had a storming second 45, capped with two expertly taken goals.
If you believe some of the press, our young wide man was subjected to a dog’s abuse by a proportion of the home support before half time.
Matt Dickinson in The Times had this to say:
“If Arsène Wenger had listened to the fans, Theo Walcott would have been sat on the bench in the second half. If Walcott had listened to the fans, he might have been weeping in the dressing room despairing at how they expect him to perform if he is such a “useless c***”…
“Fickledom is the way of the supporter but, truly, some of the Arsenal hardcore did not deserve to be allowed to stay in their seats for this astonishing comeback.
“They should ask Walcott if he felt buoyed when he had the chance to sprint clear of Tottenham Hotspur’s defence in the first half but instantly offloaded the ball to Robin van Persie rather than risk another volley of “P”s, “C”s and “F”s.
“Some of the angriest men in the world seem to gather at the Emirates, so quick to seize on any mistake that you wonder if they are willing failure.”
Now I should point out that some AA regulars who were at the match reported hearing no such abuse.
Yes, there were groans of disappointment when promising moves broke down, but that’s been happening at football matches since Dandan was a nipper.
I’m not suggesting that Dickinson is making it up (the press don’t do that sort of thing do they?). It may just be that there are a group of particularly angry so-called fans who sit near the press box at the Emirates.
Instead of saying “if Arsene Wenger had listened to the fans” it might have been better journalism for Dickinson to write “if AW had listened to some of the disgruntled fans sitting near me…”
But it’s a better story if you give the impression that poor Theo was being sworn at by 57,000 howling psychopaths.
As far as I could tell from watching on the TV, the support for the team was fantastic throughout the whole game, even at two-nil down.
Nevertheless, anyone who has looked around the Arsenal blogscape will recognise some of the sentiment described in the Times article.
I have seen comments on Arsenal blog sites heaping the vilest of abuse on Theo. I have seen people who call themselves Arsenal supporters wish death on him, I have seen others praying that he gets his leg broken.
As supporters of a club that has suffered three horrendous leg breaks in recent seasons these people, apparently in all seriousness, really do want to wish the same on Walcott.
They are not supporters, they are a cancer in our great club and any site that fails to remove their comments is as much part of the problem as the haters who spout such filth.
Ramsey has had similar treatment this year (his first season back, remember, from one of the aforementioned leg breaks, in a team struggling as a whole to find its form). Yes he has found it hard at times, as has Theo, but do they really deserve such odious abuse?
Criticism, fine. Abuse and hatred, never.
Walcott is just 22 – still a player learning his trade. He has some shortcomings and some gifts; he may never be a world class great, but some of his critics would have you believe he should be playing non-league.
Well let’s compare his effectiveness with a player whom those self-same critics would no doubt revere: Marc Overmars, one of the heroes of our 1998 Double winning side.
In three seasons with us, Overmars played 100 EPL games and scored 25 goals – a return of one goal every four games.
In the last three EPL seasons (including this one), Walcott has played 76 games and scored 17 goals – a return of one goal every four-and-a-half games. Not that big a difference, especially when you take into account that Overmars started most of the games he played in, whereas Walcott’s 76 appearances include 22 as a substitute.
I’m not for a moment saying that Walcott and Overmars are directly comparable. For one thing the Dutchman was already 24 years old when he joined us. And I’m happy to accept that Theo has limitations.
But they are both speedy, direct wingers with a roughly similar goal return. And when you’re a winger you have to take a lot of risks because you are one of the focal points of the attack. You are expected to try and beat opponents, to shoot, to cross, to set up assists for goals. Inevitably your efforts won’t all succeed.
I would need to go back and watch some full games from Overmars’ spell with us, but I now wonder how many times he failed to beat his man, or tried passes that did not come off. Perhaps if the internet had been as prevalent in his day there would have been “supporters” wishing death on him too.
Yesterday on Arsenal Arsenal a clip was uploaded showing Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott being interviewed after crushing the jumped-up jackanapes from down the Seven Sisters Road.
If you haven’t seen it, you should (and with luck someone will re-post the link in the comments below).
You’ll see the captain of our club – and the best player in the country this year (if not the world) – giving 100% support to Theo and, in a subtle way, asking the fans to lay off him.
Do you think Robin knows what he’s talking about?
Do you think our brilliant captain, who trains with Theo every day and plays with him every week, is better qualified to judge his abilities than some slobbering lard bucket with spittle round his mouth and a face full of fury?
I know I do.
So here’s my appeal to all true Arsenal fans between now and the end of the season:
- Support Theo and all our players in every game.
- If he (or others) make mistakes, rein in the anger and frustration. Redouble the support. If in doubt, think about a certain two-nil-down, five-two-up victory.
- Criticise his performance in the pub or on your favourite blog, but exercise moderation and restraint.
- If you run a blog, remove comments that are expressed in hateful terms and ban posters who persist in such abuse.
- If you contribute to a blog, chasitise others who express themselves in such a way and ask the site administrators to take action.
- At games, if there’s a hater near you ask him to pipe down and support the team.
- If you feel too intimidated to do that, drown him out with your support.
If we can deal with some of the poison seeping from the internet community and the stands I feel confident that the atmosphere at the ground can also improve, with a knock on positive effect on the team.
Sunday’s brilliant ambience should be the norm, not the exception, but the bad apples need to be silenced.
They are a nasty minority and the majority, the ones who gave unfailing support all game long against the Spuds, do not have to stand for it.