Monday, February 13, 2012

The enigma that is Theo Walcott

(Today's post is written by a guest blogger. Justin Salhani, author and creator of the blog "Just in Beirut", which you can visit by clicking here, is an avid Arsenal fan who usually writes about things which vary from Football to Politics. He's a bit confused though about a certain player that plays for his beloved Gooners. You can follow Justin on Twitter - @JustinSalhani)

Theo Walcott is a player who divides opinions amongst Arsenal fans as well as professional commentators and ex-pros. Some claim that Walcott is a valuable resource due to his speed and decent finishing ability. Others argue that he lacks a football brain. Arsene Wenger signed Walcott based on his potential. He was thought to be the next Thierry Henry due to his build, his position as a winger, his finishing ability and, of course, his speed. 

However, Walcott’s development hasn’t gone according to plan. After featuring in the 2006 World Cup squad under Sven-Goran Eriksson, Walcott missed out on Fabio Capello’s 2010 squad. The uproar was minimal, as Walcott had been the subject of public media bashing from a number of ex-professionals who claimed his decision making (his main weakness) hadn’t improved since he joined Arsenal.

Fast forward two years and Walcott still faces similar criticism. While many avid Arsenal fans still back the pacey Brit, his decision making remains frustrating to say the least. However, fans hang on because every so often he will come up with an impressive performance, beating defenders down the line and setting up Robin Van Persie with a number of goals (like in the 7-1 victory against Blackburn last week). It seems that the reason fans put their support behind Walcott is that every time they feel ready to throw in the towel and sell him off, he comes up with an inspiring match.

While Arsene Wenger does have a reputation for being patient in letting players develop, Walcott’s opportunities may be scarcer in the coming future. Gervinho’s play as a direct and effective attacking player has seen him become almost undroppable on one of the flanks while Robin Van Persie’s form in Walcott’s preferred striking position is cemented in stone. That leaves just one more wide attacking midfield position. Walcott has vacated this role regularly, beating the declining Andrei Arshavin to a starting birth there.

Though, with the recent emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott’s days may be numbered.

Bringing Walcott off the bench is always a gamble as you never know which player will turn up. It could be beneficial for Arsenal to have such an impact player to come on to add some pace to their side when in need of a goal. But will Walcott accept a place on the bench? For this reason, Walcott must turn potential into ability, occasional flashes of effectiveness into consistent playing style, for if he doesn’t his time at Arsenal may be up.

1 comment:

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