Position : Winger/Forward
Nation : England
2011/2012 Appearances : 46 (5 as sub)
Bought from Southampton in early 2006, for a then record fee, and touted as ‘The next big thing in English football’, Walcott has at times exhilarated and usually dissapointed. One of the paciest wingers in the Premier League, Walcott has had a mixed season.
Let’s take a look at Theo Walcott‘s season.
Walcott came on as a sub in the 0-0 stalemate against Newcastle in the season opener. Walcott scored an important goal in just the 4th minute, in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese, though he was guilty of missing two late on. He was largely lacklustre in the 2-0 home loss to Liverpool. He scored the all important winner away to Udinese, as the Gunners progressed 3-1 on aggregate. Walcott won a penalty when he was fouled by Johnny Evans, which was saved by de Gea. He scored a goal late in the first half, but the Gunners were thrashed 8-2.
Walker had a mixed game, against Swansea, where he had a shot cleared off the line. Walcott delightfully assisted van Persie for his strike against Borussia Dortmund. Walcott came on as a sub for Andrey Arshavin in a 4-3 loss at Blackburn, and almost won a penalty for the Gunners. Walcott assisted for van Persie’s 100th Arsenal goal against Bolton, but was largely anonymous against Tottenham, Sunderland, Marseille and Walcott.
He made up for it in an outstanding performance against Chelsea. He was a constant menace to former Arsenal left back Ashley Cole, and produced numerous crosses that should have been turned in. He also produced a moment of magic, when he ran straight at Chelsea’s defence, ghosting past two defenders, and even falling in the process, to rifle past Cech. Walcott played in a couple of dangerous centres against Marseille, but weren’t converted.
Walcott assisted for van Persie’s opening goal against West Brom. Walcott impressed against Norwich, with his pace and guile, and he crossed in several times, though chances weren’t taken. van Persie took his to score the equalizer. He was also denied by a goal line clearance from Russel Martin. He continued his impressive form against Borussia Dortmund, where he always posed danger to the German side’s defence. Walcott provided the assist for Vermaelen’s equalizing header against Fulham. He was provider again for van Persie’s goal against Wigan, after some good work on the right. Walcott always looked dangerous against Everton, but squandered all his chances.
After a mediocre first half against Manchester City, he put in an improved second half display, forcing saves off Hart, but he was replaced by Arshavin, much to the winger’s dismay. Walcott won Arsenal a penalty against Aston Villa, which was duly converted by van Persie, and created a couple more opportunities.
Walcott looked subdued in the 1-0 win over QPR and missed a guilt-edged chance, when put through by Ramsey. If he was subdued against QPR, he was poor against Fulham, and barely had a sniff of the ball. He was equally poor against Swansea, but this time managed to score an easy goal when being put through.
There was some improvement to see against Manchester United, where his work rate seemed better, but he was well marshalled by United’s defence. He created lots of problems for Aston Villa’s defence, where Arsenal overturned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. He scored a fortunate goal, when his initial shot hit Hutton and back to Walcott, to roll into the net.
The young winger was again guilty of missing the easiest of chances, against Bolton in a drab stalemate. Walcott put in his best performance against beleaguered Blackburn, when he provided 3 assists, 2 for van Persie and one for Chamberlain. He was well marked by Kieran Richardson of Sunderland, and a poor performance against Milan followed, where he was replaced by Thierry Henry at half-time.
His misery continued in the first half against Sp*rs, where Assou-Ekoto marked him out of the game. But, he scored 2 vital goals, as Arsenal swept past 5-2 in the North London derby. He seemed to lack any creativity of sort in the next game against Liverpool, though he almost scored, when his shot between 3 defenders bounced off Reina’s leg.
Walcott played well in the second leg against Milan, giving many problems for Djemal Mesbah and Thiago Silva, and it was his run that led to Rosicky’s goal, to take the Gunners into a 2-0 lead. The winger was man of the match against Newcastle, where he beat the Geordies’ defence time and time again. He provided both assists as Arsenal won 2-1. He built on this against Everton and Aston Villa, where he again won the man of the match. He also scored a goal, off a long ball from Song.
Walcott’s form curve took a dip again against QPR and Manchester City, where he was marked well by Taiwo and Clichy respectively. In the next game against Wolves, he won the penalty, when he was fouled by Bassong from behind, which was converted by van Persie, and then he played a delightful 1-2 with the Dutchman to fire Arsenal’s second.
He was again poor against Wigan, when the combined efforts of Figueroa and Beausejour kept him out. He also seemed to struggle against young Ryan Bertrand of Chelsea, before he was injured. He would come in as a sub for Rosicky in the final game of the season against West Brom.
Here are few features of Theo Walcott‘s game.
1. Wing Play
While there is no doubting his pace or his ability, we have seen far too often Walcott struggling against quality left backs. He doesn’t seem to have the intelligence or the skill that is often required. His form fluctuates far too often, and is an aspect that needs lot of working on. His 13 assists though are impressive.
The winger, who says he is ready to a more central role as a striker, was guilty of missing many easy chances. He has scored 11 goals this season, but that number could be more with more composure and better shooting.
3. Pace, Possession and Skill
Gifted with natural pace, Walcott has the tendency to give away the ball too easily. Figueroa, Evra, Clichy, Taiwo, Assou-Ekoto, Richardson etc all capitalized on this weakness of the winger. Lots of question marks have been raised over his level of skill, and the lack of significant improvement in his 6 years at the club.
SUMMARY AND RATING
Frustratingly for Walcott, his form fluctuates all the time, and is never able to enjoy a good consistent run. He has built a good partnership with van Persie, but lot needs to be worked upon, if Arsenal are to enjoy success next season. He gets a 7.