Theo Walcott, a very common name on the lips of every Arsenal FC fan. Is he really worth all that fuss? Is he able to live up to the hype with which he arrived at the Gunners? So far the answer to that question remains just that, a question mark.
Arriving at the emirates as a 16 year old Walcott was one of the most talked about prospects & having signed for Arsenal for a fee in the region of £12 million from Southampton FC in 2006, he seemed as a long term replacement for Thierry Henry but at a hefty price for a 16 year old at that time.
With blistering bursts of speed and an eye for a cross, Walcott was employed on the wings in his early career as an arsenal prospect. Playing alongside the likes of Thierry Henry & Cesc Fabregas, he was bound for the limelight alongside the aforementioned Arsenal greats. Having made his national debut for England in May 2006, he became the youngest capped player for England at just 17 years. He made his first competitive World Cup appearance for England against Andorra in September 2008. He seemed destined for greatness under the watchful eye & guidance of manager Arsene Wenger.
BUT WHAT WENT WRONG? Was it the pressure of playing alongside such big names in the football world? Or was the manager wrong in employing him in the wrong role? Or is he simply just overrated?
At the age of 24 Walcott is still to show the reason why Arsene Wenger, a manager with an eye of developing stars from rough diamonds, paid £12 million for a 16 year old. And at the time of his arrival at the Emirates based club, manager Arsene Wenger had an alternative in the form of his ex-teammate & current Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale who arrived at White Hart Lane also from Southampton FC & at the same age as Walcott.
Gareth bale began his footballing career as a left back for the Saints. Known as a free-kick specialist, he soon developed into a striker mostly operating behind the main striker as a false nine. He is blessed with a left foot that closely matches that of Robin Van Persie & Arjen Robben. Bale has become the focal point of most of Tottenham’s goals this season and a figure that the spurs crowd ultimately depend upon. Exceeding the 20 goal landmark that all strikers thrive for throughout the season, majority of Bale’s goals have come from outside the box. His dependability is clearly visible in the last quarter of every of Spurs matches this season as he tends to up his level and score amazing goals whenever Spurs are in need.
Walcott’s dispute at time of renewal of his contract last year was that he wanted more opportunities to play up front, but when given the opportunity he lacked the technicality and awareness that Thierry Henry had an abundance of. His finishing has certainly improved but when deployed on the wings his crossing quality has dampened over the years. Inconsistency & selfishness when in the box has cost Arsenal at times this season. With his goal tally increasing with every season, he is still to match the level of Thierry Henry and the likes.
Walcott certainly has his work cut out for him next season as it may be his last chance at proving doubters wrong. Was Arsene Wenger right in opting to purchase Walcott instead of Bale? This is a question that may well be answered next season.