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Is It Theo Walcott’s Time At Arsenal?

When Arsene Wenger told the press he was in no hurry to spend Emmanuel Adebayor’s transfer fee and would replace him with “an internal player,” more than a few people probably had the same reaction: “Same old Wenger, always stingy.”

A quick look over Arsenal’s roster, however, proves Wenger indeed has no shortage of options at forward. Robin van Persie surely starts up front when he’s healthy. Eduardo appears to be fully recovered from his devastating leg injury. Andrei Arshavin is a natural goal scorer who can move from the wing to a forward spot in a pinch. Carlos Vela is an emerging talent. Nicklas Bendtner… well, his boots certainly stand out.

The wild card in this lineup, though, is Theo Walcott. Is he ready to take his place up front as a striker for Arsenal?

While the 20-year-old England international has spent a lot of time playing on the wing for the Gunners, he’ll be the first to tell you he’s a natural forward, and he’s proven his scoring ability multiple times in an England kit. Any young Englishman who manages a hat trick in a World Cup Qualifier in Zagreb clearly has enough talent to scoring at the club level, too.

Walcott was set back last season by a dislocated shoulder, but he returned in the spring to show flashes of brilliance, including his FA Cup semifinal goal against Chelsea and his stunning counterattack that set up Andrei Arshavin’s fourth goal against Liverpool.

Oh, by the way, he’s also wearing Thierry Henry’s No. 14 now, and that he’s playing for the manager who made Henry the star striker he is today.

There are a few issues, however, with playing Walcott up front. At 5’9″ and roughly 150 pounds, Theo seems a little undersized to be a true striker in the Premier League. Size hasn’t stopped someone like Lionel Messi from being a world-class forward, of course, but Messi plays in a less physical league and is perhaps an even rarer talent than Walcott. Plus, given his pace and passing ability, Walcott seems better suited to the wing, where he can break down fullbacks and cross the ball to open teammates.

Another reason why Walcott might not take his place up front immediately for Arsenal? Samir Nasri’s broken leg. With the French international expected to be out until October, both Walcott and Arshavin might be asked to stay out on the wings, leaving van Persie, Eduardo and Bendtner as the primary options up front — and a healthy Eduardo is awfully hard to leave on the bench for any reason.

Walcott harbors dreams of being a target man up front for Arsenal, but I suspect his opportunities will be limited to cup ties at the start of the season. If he proves to be a frequent scorer as a striker, however, Wenger will have a hard time justifying leaving him out on the wing.

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  1. Kautzie

    July 26, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Hey Tom, I wasn’t saying RVP is the same class as Bergkamp, I was only saying they have a similar style of player and I don’t think he gets enough credit because of his injury problems. As for Adebayor, I understand that most footballers are mercenaries nowadays and I have nothing against guys getting paid but the way he went about it last summer jerking the team and the fans around was dead wrong. As for the anger it’s only because I love the club and hate when people unjustly slag it off, and I take back the whole “piss off and support spurs” thing, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

  2. Kautzie

    July 25, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Johnny2bad, your a disgrace to all gooners with your moronic ramblings, RVP is more than goal scorer, he’s a creator in the same way Bergkamp was. Also I know Bendtner was awful at times last season but he’s only 21 that’s way too early to give up on a player, his finishing is bad but not much worse than that c*nt Adebayor you love so much. And even in the unlikely event that Man City does breaks the top four why does everyone assume it’s going to be Arsenal they knock out? The way I see it Liverpool are the most vulnerable, they massively overachieved last season and if Torres or Gerrard get hurt their screwed. Also if you want to mock a guy for being loyal to our club then why don’t you piss off and support Spurs.

    • Tom Austin

      July 26, 2009 at 2:30 am

      So Kautzie, ‘RVP is more than goal scorer, he’s a creator in the same way Bergkamp was.’ ‘Moronic ramblings’? However, I admit I was harsh on RVP and he doesn’t deserve that as he is a good player, just a bit overrated.
      I don’t really think you should be calling Adebayor a ‘c*nt’, or anybody else for that matter. Can you blame anybody for trying to make as much money as they can – Isn’t that what millions of people try to do everyday?
      Arsenal is far bigger than any player and if someone wants to leave then good luck to him. As lots of people have pointed out here, it doesn’t usually pay off for them. For me though, it is a shame.
      Anyway Kautzie, I do hope you find a way to get over this anger thing you’ve got going on – Hey I know – There are a lot of angry people down at White Hart Lane, maybe YOU should join them

  3. arsenal

    July 25, 2009 at 7:45 am

    What the hell is wrong with walcott .As every one forgoton His hat trick against croita. Yes i admit He wont be as good as messi But he is progressing year by year. I still believe should stay out on the wing and improve his crossing abitliy. as for arsenals attacking force its ok it could be improven with hunterla but that if wenger decides to buy him. vanpersie is class but i don’t think he will be the type of stricker who will score 20 goals a season. VeLA is a great talent And Edurado well his goal against burnley sums up what he is about . I think Arshavin could be pfa player of the year next season. He was my player of the year for arsenal last season

  4. Johnny2bad

    July 24, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I really can’t believe that eveyone is giving Walcott such a hard time. It is true that his crosses are not great and he didn’t score many goals last season but that is mainly due to being played out on the wing, injured or just not picked at all. He has pace and that scares defenses to hell. Another thing, I find it unbelieveable that so many Gooners can’t see how absolutely terrible Bendtner is! He is atrocious and another fine example of Wenger’s stubborness, Eboue being another. Bendtner doesn’t have a bad touch but he has no composure and needs to be let go. Adebayor leaving is a real blow to the Gooners. He still managed to score quite a few goals last season even though he was out for quite a long period. So what if he had a bad attitude and wasn’t ‘loyal’ to the club – He was the best and only real striker we had and we are not going to be able to attract another striker of his quality. Most players are driven by money these days and it is something we are just going to have to get used to.
    RVP is not up the job. He is overrated. Has anyone actually seen how many goals he usually scores? It is not good enough. No wonder he is constantly displaying his loyalty to the club: nobody else, who is any good, wants him. I think we are going to finish out of the top 4 this season – We need to splash some cash.

  5. ish

    July 24, 2009 at 1:36 am

    walcott is very far from the finished article. He has flashes of briliance but after 7-8 shit performances those flashes look like flukes. He doesnt really have a great cross on him to be an orthodox winger, his dribbling and ball control also is lacking. He plays best as a counter attacking striker that needs early service so he can burst through the defense to score, he is quite clinical when one on one though.
    Sturridge is a better striker then walcott is currently and sturridge has the same issues. Walcott has more potential then sturridge though.

  6. Ian

    July 23, 2009 at 8:18 am

    My suggestion for a ‘holding midfielder’, though I prefer, defensive midfielder as a phrase, would be Diarra at Real (the Malian one).

  7. Jus

    July 23, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The problem is not Teo, RVP or Bentner, but the Arsenal bench. Wenger should have many players competing for positions in the team thus motivating them to up their game to catch the Coache’s attention. We need a holding midfielder though suggestions Dave?

  8. Ayodele Daniel

    July 23, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Men! leave Walcott alone the guy is too good for us, he can still perform and am very sure that now that eduado,rosicky and ashavin in the front walcott will give them the pass and strait to the net.

    • Ayodele Daniel

      August 6, 2009 at 3:32 am

      who is this that shares my name lol I love walcott o…y’all remember he is still just 20

  9. akif

    July 23, 2009 at 4:57 am

    err u dumbo coz walcotts a winger nd bedner is a goal hanger he dont work to the ball like v persie he attaks to the ball n bendner just chatting up da goalie nd defender

  10. Tom14

    July 23, 2009 at 4:43 am

    David and aaaaa (**sniggers**) I think you will find that Bendtner scored 14 goals last season with a comparable finishing record to the likes of Adebayor, Torres, Rooney and Anelka (around 16% of his shots went in) whereas Walcott scored 6 goals, with a 5% finishing success rate – the second worst in the Arsenal squad behind Toure.

  11. David Otim

    July 23, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Four years ago, Theo came to North London as a great potential, but never got chance to flourish. He’s 20 now and everyone knows that this is the prime age for the career of this nature. I wont be surprised when dudes like Bendtner will get a fair share of every 90 mins of next season ahead of Theo. There’s something about Arsene’s fixations.

  12. Rocket

    July 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Leave Bendtner alone he is not that bad yes he missed a few shots but he gets himself in the right positions to score them and does put them away now and then. He certainly is not scared by what anyone says or thinks the boots being an example he gets right in there he is not pushed around like walcott who flops any time he is touched id rather have someone up there who fights for us maybee he can be that player unlike adebayor who would have gone to the african cup anyway and missed about a month just like all the flaminis and hlebbs the grass is never greener.
    All this talk is just panick we will be ok in AW i believe.
    However i would love us to get Huntelar what a striker please please please sign him ck his stats how many goals he has scored.
    Walcott wearing 14 shirt is a joke changing your shirt no is not going to help lifting some weights getting stronger learning how to cross the ball might help, its this year or never for him or he will end up like Perry a super sub.

  13. aaaaa

    July 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    because bendtner is rubbish…doesn’t try nearly hard enough, scoring is below par…and always has that ‘how the heck did i miss that’ look

  14. edgar

    July 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Man! What’s up with all the hating on Bendtner? I’m not an Arsenal supporter and i believe he could become a very good striker. As far as his boots… thats another story.

  15. Bobby Chew

    July 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I am not too sure about Theo Walcott, as every time I watched him, he is just knocking the ball forwards and outsprinting the defender…so I don’t think Walcott is anywhere close to Messi.
    Now Ashley Young is a talent and he has the touch, pace, cross and shot. Don Fabio MUST take Ash to the World Cup 2010….

  16. bjohnson

    July 22, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    es – Well said. There is no-way Theo should be in any Arsenal starting line-up. In terms of our strikers he is 6th choice behind – RVP, Eduardo, Vela, Bedtner and Arshavin.
    In terms of our wide players he is behind – Rosicky, Nasri & Eboue. Yes even Eboue who decision making and crosses are far superior than Theo.
    As for his hat-trick for England, Since then his performances have been ordinary at best. Theo was not even a first choice starter for the U21s.

  17. Ben Mills

    July 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Great post “es”

  18. es

    July 22, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Harry, Eduardo is not out for another two months. AS said: “But the options are Tomas Rosicky who is back. And in [those] two months Eduardo will be back as well. We do have offensive options but we don’t want to lose important players before the season starts.” (From AFC website).

    Curiously AW said ‘the next’ in the interview and on the website this was replaced by “[those]”. I think this was to clarify the semantics.

    Unless, I’ve missed something from a reliable source, then this is still how things stand with Eduardo.

    As for the main article, wherever Theo is asked to play he (currently) has deficiencies. As a winger he’s a poor crosser of the ball and as a striker he’s not a particularly great finisher. Moreover, in either position his choices and instincts aren’t brilliant. That said, these are things that can be rectified on the training ground, unlike speed, and as long as he’s willing to spend time working on these facets he will improve. If, on the other hand he believes that scoring three times in Zagreb is already proof of his stature then progress could well be slow.

  19. Ben Mills

    July 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Harry, that is what you call an arrogant, misinformed, stupid post.

  20. Ian

    July 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Am I right in thinking Walcott has been at Arsenal for 4 years now?

    If I am, he has to come good this year. Flashes of brilliance are not enough. He has to be in the team every week, playing 90 mins, scoring goals. Simple enough. If not, he’s going to be considered a waste of money and unfulfilled potential.

  21. Joaq

    July 22, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Theo will never be at Messi’s level, I’m tellin ya. This year could springboard his career but I really do not think that by wearing the 14 shirt and wearing vapors he’ll be the next Henry overnight. It’ll take time but he’ll be a solid player.

  22. Harry

    July 22, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Not very well thought out article, and certainly not well informed. Eduardo is going to be out for another two months after an operation on his leg in May. I’d have thought a serious Arsenal fan would have known this. As for Bendtner’s boots … well, the fact that that is all you have to say about him says it all. He got a couple last night, but they were against a Ryman’s League team equivalent. He also showed his old habits of shooting well wide when in front of goal. Still, we all hope he will improve as he gets fitter. It’s galling to sit here and watch all the other so-called ‘targets’ being snatched up by other clubs. Come on the Gunners!

    • Mike

      July 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

      Eduardo won’t be out for two months. He is fit and currently in pre-season training.

    • Dave Warner

      July 22, 2009 at 11:07 am

      I wrote this piece last night, before the news about Eduardo’s knock hit the web this morning. That might push Walcott forward briefly, but I suspect Wenger’s strange Bendtner fixation will win out instead.

      They might as well sign Amoebi. At least his horrific misses have the side benefit of killing birds that fly into the stadium.

  23. Craig Stephenson

    July 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

    “but Messi…… perhaps an even rarer talent than Walcott”
    Perhaps??? Perhaps???
    Come on! Even as an Arsenal fan i find the comparasion foolish.
    Walcott has yet to produce it game after game for arsenal, i know he’s still only 20 but he needs to start winning games for us.

  24. Tittle Tattle

    July 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

    He isn’t good enough to be honest. He could mature into a top striker, but the bench is the place where Theo’s bottom is best placed.

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