Theo Walcott – Striker or Stinker?

Written by gunnerN5

January 20th 2006 was an exciting day in our history; Arsene Wenger secured the signature of Theo Walcott on an initial pre-contract agreement to sign a professional contract on his 17th birthday. Even at the tender age of 15 Theo was touted as one of, if not the, best youngster in English football and he was now an Arsenal player.

Now here we are almost 5 years and 134 games later (72 as a starter and 62 as a sub) into his Arsenal career. Has he proven to be the potential star we had anticipated and yearned for or is he still a work in progress; or worst still is he a waste of space?

He has provided many fantastic highlights and his speed frightens opposition defenses, but his lack of consistency and sub standard statistical measurements are sadly underwhelming.

His ability to leave defenses in his wake and deliver crosses is commendable, even exceptional, but many of his crosses go astray, along with the possibility of creating good goal scoring opportunities.

How many times do we see him speed up to a defender and then have no idea on how to get around him, how many of his passes go astray;  how many good moves break down because of his poor decision making?

In his 134 appearances, 72 as a starter and 62 as a sub he has totaled 18 goals and 20 assists, if we consider a goal as 1 point and an assist as half a point then he has earned .209 points per appearance.

One would believe that with his speed he would be best suited as a sub coming on for the last 20/25 minutes against tired defenses but the stats don’t back up this theory as  they are almost identical  as both a sub and a starter.

Most of our subs have higher points earned as starters than they do as sub’s which makes sense given the increased amounts of time that they are on the pitch – but Theo defies the logic – why?

His contribution level as a starter is almost the same as a sub and this simply should not be, especially with his outstanding speed. One would have to believe that at least his assists would increase given that we score so many goals in the last 20 minutes – but that is not the case – why?

Sadly I don’t have answers, simply questions, but even sadder it would appear that nobody else has either. It remains a wish and hope situation.


Since I wrote this I have done some more exhaustive/accurate research into this season’s goal scoring statistics and the results are quite revealing.

I would have preferred to use minutes played but I could not find a reliable enough source so I settled for the combination of games and substitutions to arrive at appearances – not ideal, but still useful data.

It should be of no surprise to any of us that Nasri is number 1 – closely followed by  Chamakh at number 2 – but surprise, surprise Walcott is number 3 – why?

Does that refute all of the previous comments?

The answer to the question is no, as he got all of his points in the first 3 games of the season and in his last 5 appearances he shown his typical inconsistency and earned zero points.

It should also be noted that Sagna has scored more points than Bendtner and that Fabianski has more points than Clichy or Rosciky who just scrapes onto the chart in last place.

All of the stats are EPL only.

Let’s talk.



59 Responses to Theo Walcott – Striker or Stinker?

  1. batty the gooner says:

    how,if started will he do against Evra a stern test indeed.

  2. brad says:

    This is such a complicated subject because theo also plays better against teams when their defence is pushing up trying to get a goal so theo ill do better when we are winning or playing a team that does not put players behind the ball. Start theo against Man U as Evra is not smart enough to just track him and push theo into a corner. i like the thought of theo (pace) on the right Van Persie (technique) down the left and chamack (strength) in the middle one of them should always shine especially if they rotate positions up top

  3. Rasp says:

    Welcome batty and brad,

    I think it unlikely that Theo will start against manu. I assume Wilshere was rested midweek in order to play on Monday and it is clear that whichever midfield dominates will win. Theo’s talking big at the moment but I think our cautious boss will opt for the safest bet and start with a midfield 5 of Nasri, Song, Denilson, Wilshire and Arshavin (assuming Cesc is not fit, otherwise Cesc in place of Denilson).

  4. Femi Jacobs says:

    I have said it over and over again that Walcot is best when he comes on from the bench. Why? Then, the opponent would have been tired and walcot will outrun them and give us goal.

    I also pointed out that one of his problem is that he sticks to one position. Against Totteham, he was marked out and walcot could not use his sense to switch to another side. if a side is difficult penetrating, then try the other side who knows the defenders may be confused and alas goals comes in.

    He is inconsistent and need to put more effort

  5. brad says:

    its strange, i wonder if theo listens to what wenger says but doesnt make his own decisions to switch about,if i was a right back setting up to play arshaven and all of a sudden for 5 mins i had theo burning at me it would shake me up just so that in 5 mins later im up against the skill of arshaven, i dont think arsenal switch it up enough which makes us a little predictable, there is not many defenders that are strong enough to hold of chamack and cope with walcotts pace or deal with arshavens trickery, every defender should come up against all three of these at somepoint in the game one of the defenders crack. thats not even mentioning our creative midfield

  6. gradew says:

    The problem is walcott is not playmaker and he is not good in defending. He is more effective as lone striker but as winger he is not that good and sometime arsenal will be venerable in counter attack. If arshavin is on the left and walcott is on the right we have two special talented but wastful players which we can not afford to field them both once. I believe wenger decision is correct and we need to adhere with it. when the time came he will get the chance to shine. but with sort of quality players at disposal now the comptition is stiff and I believe he is getting the right amount of playing time.

  7. brad says:

    Gardew makes a very good point…its very easy to get carried away about attacking…shouldnt do that as i am a left back!.

  8. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I have strong views about Theo.

    Walcott was transferred to Arsenal on 20 January 2006, for a fee of £5 million, rising to £12 million depending on appearances for club and country.This was reduced to 9.2 million in 2008 and in March he will be 22.
    He has publically declared his favoured position is a central one, and the first time it was shown to good effect was when Eduardo tragically broke his leg at birmingham, and Theo scored 2 excellent goals.

    Naturally like so many of our players he has had injuries,but his shoulder injuries are hereditory and were not picked up when he first had his medical.

    To continue to be an impact sub,cannot be sustained for much longer.

    He seems a level headed lad,and we payed a lot for his services,yet even allowing for the hype of going to the WC at the tender age of 16,this must still give huge expectation of him by the fans.

    I thought at the beginning of this season he was maturing and advancing in his skills,but the injury put him back again.He was woeful against Fulham yet when he came on against Partizan he showed coolness to score what wasn’t an easy goal.I think the fans are divided about him, and as time goes on,many think we have bought a dud.

    If he doesn’t get regular football soon I can see him leaving, yet I am not sure if that would be a good or bad thing for him or the club.

  9. Vinay says:

    I for one believe he still doesnt merit a start in our team, not just because of other players but more so because of his own performances. He does have his moments under the sun but they have been few and far between. Even though they are different players, Bale and Theo both were picked around the same time from Southampton and even though he has had really bad times, bale has shown considerable improvement whereas Theo had had some real good days and some poor ones as well. For me he needs to be more consistent and the other big issue is his final ball delivery, he absolutely makes repeated mistakes without looking up to see who is even aiming the pass for which is sheer basics. I feel as of now his impact is best when he comes after 60 minutes(as much as he may not like it), as the opponents are tired and also are vary of his pace. Till he improves specially mentally, (which is in his own hands) he will be a super sub only. Please note in no way am i questioning his ability or talent.

  10. gunnern5 says:

    Kelsey, I’m neither pro nor anti Walcott I’m simply bemusd that after 5 seasons he is still an enigma.

    He’s like the typical precocious child when he’s good he’s very, very good and when he’s bad he’s horrid.

    It should be said that his best games appear to be against the weaker teams i.e. a hat trick against Blackpool.

  11. gunnern5 says:


    I too would prefer that he came on as a sub but his stats don’t show him to be a Super sub.


  12. dandan says:

    Woolcott has had anything but a fair crack of the whip at Arsenal and is perhaps Wengers biggest failure in that he insists on playing him on the wing.
    The superb Matt Le Tissier himself no mean player,watched Theo from his earliest Days at Southampton and still constantly says in his opinion, Woolcott is a talent unfulfilled, in that he is the finest natural finisher he had played with and yet is constantly played out wide when his pace through the centre would destroy sides.
    He needs games, RVP is an injury in remission and is allowed in and out of the side at will, replaced with the likes of AA and Eduardo, midgets both and no more consistent than Theo.
    If I was Theo father I would be telling him to move on to a side where he will get the playing time to grow into the player he is capable of becoming

  13. 26may1989 says:

    GN5, thanks for the write-up, including (as ever!) your great stats. Comparing his career stats with those for this season (on your system, 0.209 points in his career versus 0.563 so far this season) suggests he’s having a really good season. Of course, stats aren’t everything, but it does suggest he is progressing.

    But your point that he’s enigmatic is absolutely right: Walcott was slated for his sub performance against Fulham but his game-saving (and CL-saving) performance against Partizan was met with begrudging approval from some.

    He has talent, his shooting is as good as almost anyone else we have, he has speed and he has a great attitude. More to the point, he scares our opponents. And yes, when he’s good he’s fantastic (the slaloming run at Anfield, the brace against Birmingham, his hattrick against Croatia, his goal on Wednesday etc). He can be poor, we all know that, but he has shown the desire and ability to improve, despite all the rubbish from those who should know better, like Chris Waddle. Having Theo in the squad means we have a fantastic option, one that others would love to have but he (like some others in the squad) are subjected to harsher judgment from the fans than more favoured players in our side. As Goonerwife pointed out the other night, we are a particularly whingey bunch of fans, quick to moan and criticise, and someone like Theo is high on the list of targets. But with someone like him you take a gamble, sometimes it works and changes a game, sometimes it utterly fails.

    Will Theo ever be a first choice striker, or a first choice winger come to that? I don’t know, but would the Arsenal squad be weaker without him? Damn right it would.

    I hope he gets some time up against Evra on Monday, I’d love to start Theo rip one in him!

    And for Monday, starting with a really out of form Arshavin doesn’t fill me with confidence, esp with the very quick Nani and Rafael likely to be facing him. I wonder if an AM line of van Persie-Nasri-Eboue might be more likely, or perhaps even van Persie-Nasri-Walcott.

  14. gunnern5 says:

    dandan; I coached for many years and frankly if I had Theo on my team I would also have played him on the wing as he has devastating speed.
    That speed is nowhere near as effective in the middle of the pitch as it’s usually over crowded. In the middle you need to have quick feet and that is a skill he has not demonstrated.
    Yes he’s scored a few super goals but he had not really displayed a natural goal scoring instinct. However I hope he does as we need more goals.
    I will do some research to see I can come up with his shots on goal vs goals scored – that will tell us yet another story.

  15. gunnern5 says:

    26may; Thank you for your comments, obviously I’m stats crazy as I try to be more objective/factual than subjective in my thinking.

    I must admit that coming up with factual statistics is a bit hit and miss and many sites give differing information.
    Even the arsenal and premier league site’s differ. In the end result all we can do is use them as an approximate measurement.
    Although that said the chart I have used was exhaustively researched and double checked for accuracy – but I’m still an old codger and can make mistakes.


  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Great post. Interesting questions posed by your stats. He certainly divides opinion does our Theo. I think he may well be sutied to a 4-4-2 system in a Michael Owen role, but that is not going to happen. It may seem odd, but I think his best position for us would be down the left. His crossing is appalling while his shooting is very good. With the right peg! He has taken the odd useful looking free kick, so its down the left for me, cutting in, and bloody well shoot.

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’m afraid it is another day of very limited blogging for me today. Something I must know today before I can elevate my status to Pre-match Level 2 is: Will Cesc be ready for monday?

  18. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Reasonable left backs find it all too easy to shepherd Theo wide all the way back and invariably out. A corner is often the best outcome. Coming down the left and cutting in causes real headaches for defences. The right back follows leaving acres for the overlapping full back, and also tends to draw their righ CB out of position creating more space in the middle. There are many example of very right footed wingers playing down the left. None of whom I can remember. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant idea.

  19. dandan says:

    Gunner 5 whilst I respect your researched articles and opinions. Most people know I live by the old cliche there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Were Theo to play off the shoulder of the last man he would terrify the defenders. TH14 was nominally a wnger who wandered in and out from a central position. In my humble opinion (and as I previously noted in Le Tis’s also)Theo could play that role. Not that I am saying he is yet of TH standard but then the young Henry at Theos Age, had a lot to learn. Theo needs games the problem is the surplus of midfielders with quick feet who Arsone loves to play through the middle. Incidentally they are also the reason that the likes of Chamy, Thomas, and often RVP are so reluctant to shoot.

  20. gunnern5 says:


    Playing a central attacking role requires, quick feet, fast thinking and a deft passing ability and I don’t see him displaying any of those characteristics on a consistent basis.

    Lack of consistency is my biggest issue with him, you never know which Theo is going to show up for the game. Maybe he will become more consistent as he matures but frankly the indications are not positive.

    The odd good game and the odd good goal is not good enough.

  21. gunnern5 says:


    I agree with you that playing down the left flank or switching from right to left more frequently during the game may be a great option for him.

  22. 26may1989 says:

    Micky, I like Theo on the left too. In fact, how about him as an outside left and RvP (as I think he does for Holland) as an outside right?

  23. dandan says:

    We will have to agree to disagree N5, the pressure of the odd cameo appearance is of no use to anyone with serious professional ambitions. Which is why my advice to the talented young man, would be go somewhere you are appreciated and come back and show us all just what we missed.

  24. SharkeySure says:

    Mesmerising stuff GN5.

    And you’re so right – “I’m simply bemused that after 5 seasons he is still an enigma.”

    Its crazy really !!

  25. Red Arse says:

    Another good write uo GN5. 🙂

    On all the blogs, including AA, there is an inevitable commonality of recycled discussions and hot debate.

    This is not a criticism, simply an observation, evidenced by someone or other declaring they had already made the comment yesterday or written a Post on the subject.

    The Theo discussion is one such. Round and round we go, and yet although minds can be firmly made up and apparently not subject to change, however persuasive the other party’s argument, it is undoubtedly true that the positions taken are not always mutually exclusive.

    For instance, although I strongly agree with GN5 that Theo has simply not shown the necessary quick footed dribbling skills or quick thinking to play down the middle, (personally I think the same is true of his play on the right wing), I also agree with DanDan that he should move on to another team and hopefully advance his career.

    Therefore both are right, in this instance.

    (Not wishing to be disingenuous, I must say my reasons for agreeing with DanDan that Theo should leave are not the same as his.) 🙂

  26. Rasp says:

    Hi GN5

    Thanks for a great post. It seems you have your finger on the pulse as many of the other sites have written about Theo but none with the in-depth analysis you provide.

    I thought I had seen some improvement in Theo at the start of the season, he seemed stronger and more aggressive and had obviously been practicing his free kicks. Unfortunately the injury came at just the wrong time and he appears to have reverted to the patchy form of last season.

    Hi dandan,
    Great to have your company again 😛

  27. charybdis1966 says:

    A very detailed and objective view on youyr post N5 and well done to you.

    I’m not sure where I sit on the Theo question; I love the TH14’esque flashes he porvides yet I cringe and the cul-de-sacs he runs down also.

    Raspers, am I still on for tomorrow’s post ?

  28. Rasp says:

    Yes please chary …….

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Down the left! Down the left, and cut in! Then on to the right foot and curled into the top corner. Absolutely deadly.
    He is played in the wrong position. I promise.

  30. MickyDidIt89 says:

    The great thing about my theory, is that there are no stats to prove me wrong.

  31. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Stop hiding, and come out and play.
    I sound like that weird child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
    “Come out and playay”.

  32. charybdis1966 says:

    OK Raspers I’ll stick it in drafts this evening.

    Laters, people.

  33. gunnern5 says:

    dandan: As Theo is still an enigma to me I would not like to see him leave our team. I still live in the (perhaps vain) hope that the real Theo will stand up and be counted.

  34. London says:

    I wrote this about two years ago:

    “Right lets clear up this nonsense about Barcelona, the oh so philanthropic Catalans who pay UNISEF to use its name on the front of their shirts.

    You will need to use your memories a bit for this one: when shirt sponsorship first came out it was viewed as very tacky, Arsenal were one of the last to adopt it here in the UK.

    In Spain, Real Madrid were in deep debt and adopted it quickly; as a reaction, the outspoken President of Barcelona at the time made a grand statement about how the club would never defile the shirt of Barcelona by having sponsorship on the front which was repeated proudly by every Barcelona fan for a good two years……..then the penny dropped, everybody had adopted it and they realised just how much money they were loosing out on. Since then they have had to come up with a way of back tracking, enter UNISEF and what do you think will happen when that arrangement runs out?”

    I have just read this in today’s news:

    “Barcelona & Qatar Foundation agree £125m shirt deal”

    And I write this today: what a bunch of hypocritical toe rags; they didn’t adopt UNISEF out of the goodness of their hearts they just used them in a desperate measure to find a way to back track on a stupid, arrogant statement made by their then short sighted president.

  35. Rasp says:

    Hi London,

    Great exposé! Considering Barça are held up as the bastion of everything that is good in football, they get involved in some pretty grubby antics. I hope the Press in this country at least, pick up on the topic and expose them for the hypocrites they are.

  36. Rohan says:


  37. London says:

    Rohan, If I didn’t like what you write as much as I do I would say something about that.

  38. Rohan – picky picky 🙄

    Haven’t had a chance to comment much today but I would hate Theo to move to another team.

    I love the way some of us know exactly what we would coach into him, particularly Micky’s ‘play him down the left’ and I agree that he should have by now shown some consistency but he hasn’t.

    The way the crowd roars when his name is announced and cheers when he comes on, he should be wonderful and powercharged with our collective energy. He is the future face of Arsenal and England so I really hope he becomes a great footballer too.

  39. RockyLives says:

    Hello All. I think Gn5 knows I have a different view about Theo. Rather than do a long explanation now of why I think he’s going to be great for us, I’ll do a post on it in the next couple of days.
    Rasp – may need some help uploading some clips into it.

  40. RockyLives says:

    London – great comment on the hypocritical Barcards.

  41. gunnern5 says:

    Rocky: It may appear otherwise but I’m quite neutral about Theo. I would be delighted if he turned out to be our super star of the 2110’s. But he still has a lot to learn- i.e. speed is a single dimension and he has to add far more to his skill portfolio.

  42. RockyLives says:

    Sorry Gn5, I was not meaning to put words in your mouth. I just happen to feel very positive about his progress and the strides he seems to have made this year (at least until he got injured). I think he’s soon going to become one of our most important players – but I realise that I’m more optimistic than most where Theo’s concerned.

  43. gunnern5 says:

    Rocky: it would be great to read a piece that emphasizes his positives vs his negatives.

  44. gunnern5 says:

    Rocky: I really want to do a piece on Bendtner but I’m afraid that my negative opinion of him would cloud any objectivity.

  45. Rasp says:

    Go for it GN5, we’ve demonstrated our democratic approach several times recently by publishing contrary views on consecutive days. I’m sure Raddy would gladly offer the opposing argument in favour of Bendtner if you would like to give us your thoughts.

  46. Rasp says:

    Rocky @8:52,

    No worries, just let me know which clips you would like and I’ll do my best.

  47. charybdis1966 says:

    Raspers, I’ve put my post in drafts.
    Hope it’ll do. 🙂

  48. Excellent chary, love it thanks 🙂

  49. charybdis1966 says:

    Only a short little post this time Peachy, 😉

  50. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    Theo Walcott is like a scud missile when he runs against teams on the counter. Unfortunately though, when countering on the wing he has to decide how to get the ball into the zone which is not his strong point, i.e he ends up on his arse like the other night, & fluffs it.

    If Theo Walcott was played in a more central role up front he would blow defensive midfielders & central defenders away with his runs into the box on th counter. The decision he would have to make at the end of these more central runs is which part of the old onion bag he’s going to put the ball into.

    Thierry Henry was not a winger, & nor is Theo Walcott. He may go to another club and blossom in that more central role.

    In that infamous Brum game that Gallas sat on his arse & moped, Theo came on and scored 2 scorchers in the same sort of runs into the box. That performance was hailed as the arrival of him to the big time. Yet Arsene Wenger insists on playing him out wide.

  51. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Another example

  52. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    The boy’s best fit is down the spine, he’s wasted out wide

  53. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    And onto the subject of the pending 1st v 2nd fixture. This is the 90 minutes that project youth has been working towards. This could be a classic example of that old cliche 🙂 “out with the old & in with the new”. Now is the time!

  54. dandan says:

    Gnarley Sadly we are of the same view it seems Theo needs to move to be true to hs talent, great shame.

    Now for those of you who do not read the online times i have copied an article from there that may surprise you.


    Arsène Wenger doesn’t think it should be his objective to win today. That tells me two things. First, that he is a great manager. And second, that Arsenal need more money.

    I’ll explain. Wenger understands averages. He sees that his job is to raise his team’s level not match by match, but over a period.

    Why does this lead me to conclude that Arsenal haven’t got enough money? Because Wenger understands even complicated statistical correlations well, so he is bound to understand the iron law of football statistics — points are strongly related to the wage bill.

    Some fans wonder why Arsenal don’t spend more on players and criticise their manager for this failing. But I am certain that Wenger would spend the money if he had it. He knows enough to appreciate what it can do.

    Dr Henry Stott, Dr Ian Graham and Chen Jin have plotted the wage bill against points many times and Arsenal always perform better than the wage bill would lead you to expect. But this season is more exciting. This season the performance might yield prizes.

    At the start of the campaign Arsenal’s chance of winning the title was 7 per cent. This was, surprisingly perhaps, not a bad showing, given how strongly Chelsea finished last season.

    But since then two things have happened. The first is that Manchester United and Chelsea have stuttered. And this means that Arsenal have stayed close to them in points. But the second is more important. The real quality gap between Arsenal and the others has closed considerably. In fact, a bit better than that. For the first time in a long time, Arsenal are a top-two club again.

    Arsenal are virtually equal with Chelsea as an attacking team (they are 99 per cent as good) and 85 per cent as good as Chelsea in defence. This means that, while United are 83 per cent as good as Carlo Ancelotti’s team, Arsenal are 84 per cent as good.

    They seem to have changed their tactics a little this year. They are shooting more, but not as well. Their shots on target have risen, but their ability to convert that into goals has fallen.

    Another oddity concerns their home and away form. Arsenal were expected to score 17 points in their first seven home matches but secured only 12. The chance of this happening was only 7 per cent. And yet Arsenal have scored 18 points on the road this season from eight matches. The chance they would have done as good or even better is about 13 per cent. All in all, their chances of winning the title have been transformed. United have a 28 per cent shot, while Chelsea’s chances have plummeted to 49 per cent. And Arsenal? They are at 21 per cent. A very real chance.

    Copywrite the Times.

    N5 thought all those stats would be up your street

  55. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh dear. I was fully expecting to wake up and find that overnight everyone had come to the unanimous conclusion that Micky was right, and it ought to be Theo down the left.

    Morning GG if you are still lurking in the shadows.

  56. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry Dandan, Morning.
    You weren’t there when I last looked. Let me read your bit.

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    The answer is simple then, enlarge everyone’s monthly envelope!

  58. dandan says:

    Its all in the stats GG

  59. Rasp says:

    Morning all, new post………

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