There is a worrying trend at Arsenal of players having their best ever season for us and then immediately departing to pastures new.
Samir Nasri was always something of an enigma for us until his final season. He was capable of great runs and great goals, but was also frequently a lardy-arsed passenger in important games.
Then came the first half of the 2010-11 campaign and Samir was like a man possessed. He was arguably the best player in the EPL up to Christmas.
As it turned it out, he had been possessed: by the spectre of a huge pile of filthy wonga dripping with crude oil.
Likewise Brave Sir Robin who, last year, finally fulfilled his potential to become one of the best strikers in Europe. We had nursed him through injury after ludicrous injury so that he could achieve his destiny. But once he did he shoved all those years of support back in our faces and upped and offed to the red half of Manchester.
Hleb and Flamini both also decamped immediately after their best seasons for us.
And now it looks like Theo Walcott is about to do the same.
In just nine starts this season (plus nine more appearances as a substitute) he has already clocked up the sort of stats that it has previously taken him a whole season to amass.
In his 18 games this year he has 11 goals and 7 assists – which is a quite phenomenal return. In the whole of last season (with 41 starts and 5 sub appearances) he scored 11 and made 10 assists. The year before that, in 25 starts and 13 outings as a sub, he scored 13 and had 9 assists.
In other words, this season he is performing at least twice as well as we have become used to.
The sad thing is, Theo’s displays have all the hallmarks of yet another player busting a gut to put himself in the shop window so he can make a big pay day when he leaves.
I would love to think Theo will stay, but every sign points to him departing. I don’t believe Arsene Wenger will let him leave in January (indeed Le Boss has categorically stated that that will not happen). But a summer exit is on the cards and, if rumours are to be believed, there is every chance an unofficial deal has already been done.
It’s a depressing thought: yet another hero whom we need to boo and harass when he turns out against us in alien colours. To be honest I’m getting pretty bored of booing our exes.
Some of us regulars on AA have better relations with our ex wives than we do with our ex players (although I believe Goonermichael still boos some of his erstwhile spouses).
Against Reading on Monday Theo got his wish to play as the central striker. You could argue that Wenger’s willingness to give him a chance there is an indication that Le Boss thinks he may still sign for us.
After all, we all know Theo has said it’s not about the money – it’s about wanting to play down the middle.
In truth, I just think it shows how all the cards are with the player: Wenger has been benching him and refusing to play him centrally precisely because he knows that he is going to leave.
But in the end, none of our other central attacking options (Gervinho anyone?) have really convinced so Le Boss has had no choice but to go with Theo, even knowing it can never be a long term solution for Arsenal.
So what do you think?
Is Theo having a stellar season simply because he is putting in more effort in order to get a huge new deal elsewhere?
Are footballers really that capable of turning on the brilliance switch for such venal, materialistic reasons? I find it hard to countenance, but the facts are starting to bear out the theory.
Or is it just that Theo’s years of learning his trade have finally started to come to fruition. He is now 23 and is about to enter his prime years. We fans have watched him thrill and frustrate us in equal measure but now he is turning into what we all hoped he could be: a deadly forward with devastating pace and a clinical finish.
Just in time to b*gger off elsewhere.