Yesterday I promised you a serious post. A post bereft of silliness and my usual copious mounts of blathery goodness. I shall deliver exactly that. No talk of things entirely extraneous to our beloved Arsenal. No, sir. No talk of how eating an entire large bag of Chilli Heatwave Doritos turned my stomach into a churning tesseract in which Matthew McConaughey rearranges books to send messages back to his daughter, who in turn deciphers a code which will send him somewhere important to save the world. Or that I reached the conclusion Tony Stark’s replacement AI for Jarvis in Avengers: Age Of Ultron sounds alarmingly like Mrs Doyle from Father Ted. None of that.
Today, I’ll talk about Arsenal, and Theo Walcott.
Theo is one of those players I find incredibly frustrating. There’s no doubt he has ability. Few could deny he’s a superb finisher when firing on all cylinders. He has performed very well in both the right-sided attacking position and as the sole central option. Yet, it’s difficult to dispute he’s been utterly woeful and hapless in equal measure. For every moment of perceived fulfilment of potential, there’s been instances in which he falters and looks, to be quite frank, unbelievably sh*t-awful.
Because of this, he’s become a figure of immense disdain amongst fans. The odd thing is, there are worse culprits. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an example of someone who hasn’t progressed at all over the past 2-3 seasons despite showing great promise initially. Walcott has at least reached a good level at times and contributed to goals and assists. What I think singles him out are bouts of what appears to be abject laziness. The Ox, for all his faults, is rarely seen moping around the pitch unable to get involved – see Theo’s performance at Old Trafford as a perfect example of this. The Ox seldom fails to try. Walcott appears disinterested and indolent quite frequently. Rightly or wrongly, that alters perception.
Currently, that perception means the average Arsenal fan would gladly pack Theo’s bags and drive him to any location in Britain if it meant a decent transfer fee and the potential of a replacement. That could be a new transfer or the promotion of Alex Iwobi. Regardless, Walcott wouldn’t be missed by the majority and, in all honesty, I’m one of them.
But that’s because I don’t think he’s suited to the way we play and he never has been. Out on the right side of Arsene’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation he’s expected to beat his man, deliver crosses and track back to help the full-back. None of which are the strong points of his game. Deployed centrally he’s required to hold up the ball and bring the runners from midfield into play. Again, not his most formidable attributes. Where he excels is making clever runs and hanging on the shoulder of the last defender. His lightening pace in those situations terrifies opponents and justifiably so. Yet, with so many teams opting to flood the midfield and sit back when playing Arsenal, the opportunity to do so rarely presents itself.
Personally, I think if you put him upfront in a pairing for a team that likes to play on the counter-attack, he’d be absolutely lethal. But Arsenal aren’t, nor are they ever likely to be in the near future, a team that plays in that fashion. Possession and intricate passing is our MO.
Theo has been left out of England’s squad to head to France for Euro 2016 and he’s slipped some way down the pecking order at Arsenal. This summer is important for him and, all things considered, I’d be very surprised to see him still here come the opening fixture of season 2016/2017. West Ham are rumoured to be interested and reports from reputable publications suggest a bid somewhere in the region of £25m could be on the way. If true, can anyone see any negatives to accepting it? Granted, this is Arsenal we’re talking about, so the chance of it biting us in the backside is pretty high, but the positives do outweigh that.
Walcott’s 10 years at the Club is a mixed bag. Flashes of excellence sit along side moments of eye-gouging frustration. For every hat-trick there’s been a flummoxing no-show on the pitch. For every excellent finish there’s been a howlingly terrible miss. Somewhere in there is a lethal, consistent striker just itching to get out. I don’t see that ever materialising at Arsenal.
He could very well move on to pastures new and turn into that world-beater we all hoped he would all those years ago. For his sake, I hope that it does happen. But it won’t here. If it was going to, it would have by now. For that reason, and for the better of all concerned, Theo Walcott should wear a different kit next season.
But hey – that’s just my thoughts on the matter. The comments below await your thoughts. Do you still have faith in the furry-faced little dullard or are you one of the many happy to contribute your time and petrol toward getting him the f*ck outta here? I look forward to hearing your views.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more. Until that time, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
PS – ‘Pixels’ is on whilst I’m writing this. Adam Sandler, please stop making films. Please. My God, it’s so bad.