Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arsenal FC: Why Theo Walcott’s performances this season are the biggest positive for Gunners

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger signed Theo Walcott as a teenager who had the potential to grow into a world class player. The England International has been unfortunate with injuries in his Arsenal career and though he has shown glimpses of his potential, he had never come of age until this season. In the past, his decision making has been widely criticized and he has also not enjoyed considerable success in front of goal.

However, this season he has been more ruthless in front of goals notching 12 goals and also assisting 7 goals. The statistics show that the speedster has been involved in around 20 Arsenal goals this season which is a healthy number. He has been subject to plenty of criticism and there has been constant doubts as to whether he could fulfill his undoubted potential at Arsenal.

In the last season, he was affected by various injuries and was an impact substitute for most part of the season. He had scored only four goals and had two assists in the previous season and had never scored more than 10 goals in a season. As a direct consequence of his inconsistent performances for Arsenal, he was relegated to the bench at Arsenal and dropped from the World Cup squad.

However, the baby-faced winger has shown excellent determination to bounce back from that setback and started the season on a high note scoring a hat-trick against Blackpool and scoring another against Blackburn. But his bad luck with injuries continued as he was injured on International duty and ruled him out for the next six weeks.

He made an excellent comeback from injury scoring a brace against Newcastle and also scored a vital goal against Partizan Belgrade from the bench prompting Wenger to start the youngster ahead of the off-color Arshavin against Chelsea. Arsenal had had a poor record against Chelsea in the past but Theo Walcott's performance made it possible for Arsenal to put those demons to rest as they overcame the Blues who were short of confidence.

Theo Walcott has since established himself as the first choice winger ahead of Arshavin and Rosicky and has been impressive this season. Arsenal sorely missed the threat of Walcott in the games against Birmingham in the Carling Cup and Barcelona in the Champions League where he could have been hugely influential.

Though Walcott has come under immense scrutiny for his crossing and decision-making, he has considerably improved in this regard and has forged a strong partnership with the experienced Robin van Persie. Theo Walcott's last five goals assists have all set up goals for van Persie and the two have combined extremely well.

Arsenal have been short of confidence in the last few weeks and it was heartening to see Walcott making an appearance as a substitute quashing fears that he could have sustained another ankle injury. The first time he got behind the defence, he produced a sublime cross to Van Persie, who added one more goal to his tally for the season.

His performance against Chelsea exemplified his development as he showed that he could make the right decisions at important times. He was through on goal and managed to square the ball beyond the outstretched arms of Cech to provide Cesc Fabregas with the simple task of tapping it into an open net. The duo combined again for the third goal as Walcott finished with aplomb showing that he could be devastating when he is confident.

The former Southampton winger has been extremely patient at Arsenal and though he has been benched on a number of occasions, he has shown the faith in his manager and through his strong mentality, he is winning over his critics. He has confessed that his role-model is Thierry Henry and that he hopes to emulate the Arsenal legend.

If Walcott continues to show the same mentality and determination, he could develop into one of the world's most feared players and could be the catalyst to this Arsenal team winning a number of trophies in the future. Wenger has always believed in the potential of the youngster and has been integral to Walcott's progress over the last few seasons.

He has proved that he is no "one-trick pony" and has the capability to be integral to the future of Arsenal and England. Other youngsters at Arsenal should learn from the youngster whose belief, determination and patience has helped him become a much improved player.