9 years ago yesterday, a 16 year old born in Stanmore, North London was signed by Mr. Wenger. His arrival aroused much excitement because this kid was meant to be the best attacking prospect in the land. His name? Theo Walcott.
He was so good as a young boy that he was sponsored by Nike at the age of 14 and much to his credit refused an opportunity to join Chelsea. Joining Southampton Theo was the youngest player in S’ton’s long history to make a debut in the first team – he was just 16 and 3 months. Scoring a goal in his first starting game and playing with such verve that he became one of the BBC Young Sports Personalities of 2005 (winning it in his first AFC season ).
Walcott signed for us in Jan 2006 whilst still a 16. y.o for ￡9m. I was excited – I bet you were excited. He took the 14 shirt which shows just how confident a young man he is.
How do we assess his time at Arsenal? Do you think he is worth the hype and the huge wages?
Let us start with the number of games he has played – almost 200 in a 9 year spell = 22 a season. Not good. From the season out with the shoulder injuries to last years knee-knack Theo has spent much time in the massive AFC treatment mansion. Yet when fit he is a potent attacking weapon and a man whose defensive abilities are under-estimated.
Perhaps my impression of Walcott is through the rose coloured glasses of absence but he is one of my favourite players. I love how he skins the full back or scores by shooting across the keeper a’la TH14. I like his smile and his honesty, unlike most speedsters the man doesn’t dive – he is a bloke I would love my daughter to marry (if I had one!),
But is my assessment skewed by my liking the fellow? Would we be better off selling him for a bucketload of money in summer rather than go through another tortuous contract negotiation?
A goal every 5 games is not a particularly good return for someone who creates and is given so many scoring opportunities, yet in my opinion his absence cost us the title last season – we had no-one who could scare the opposition; a situation AW recognised and remedied with the purchase of Alexis.
The fans love him as witnessed by the reaction when he warms up prior to coming on as sub. Which brings us to the nub of this post …. Is Theo still an automatic starter in our best first eleven?
Given the wealth of attacking talent we have and the development of The Ox where does Theo fit in? Do we drop the magical Santi or the mercurial Alexis? We have two target men which indicates that either Welbz or OG will always start centrally.
Rasp has been writing about a player having “their time” (re:Coq) and perhaps Walcott has missed his. I cannot see him as anything but a super-sub who will start perhaps one in three games. Is that enough for a man who is an automatic pick for England and has such a high media profile?
What to you think?
written by Big Raddy