Theo Walcott is running out of time at Arsenal

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There was once a time when Theo Walcott was destined to become an Arsenal legend.  When the teenage prodigy was brought to north London from Southampton in 2006, the Gunners had a blossoming star on their hands.  Upon making his Arsenal debut in August of the same year, Walcott showcased his talents as a speedster winger. The future England international went on to take part of 32 total matches during the 2006/07 campaign, an astounding feat for a 17-year-old kid.

At the end of Thierry Henry’s reign in an Arsenal kit in 2007 (excluding the king’s loan spell in 2012), it was Walcott who was tipped by many to help replace the Gunner hero up front. In fact, the then 18-year-old winger took Henry’s famous number 14 jersey following the Frenchman’s move to Barcelona. Walcott, however, has never quite lived up to his own hype, let alone helped fill the gigantic shoes that Henry left behind at the Emirates.

Walcott’s decade with Arsenal hasn’t all been bad though.  His run down the length of the Anfield pitch and square ball to set up an Emmanuel Adebayor goal against Liverpool in the Champions League quarterfinals in 2008 was thought to be just the beginning of Walcott’s greatness (the video of that goal still gives me goosebumps to this day).  In 2011, the winger was labeled “dangerous” by Leo Messi.  “I can only speak from experience but [Walcott] was one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against, ”said Messi.  “Barcelona players are not scared easily but I can tell you that when we played Arsenal last season he truly worried us.”

In his best season in an Arsenal kit, the 2012/13 campaign, Walcott netted a wonderful hat trick against Newcastle and went on to score 21 total goals on the season.  Other than that year, a year in which he was rewarded by receiving a new contract, Walcott has never scored more than 13 total times in a season for the Gunners.

Prior to the current campaign, Arsenal gave Walcott yet another contract extension.  This pay raise was thought to make Walcott one of the highest-paid players at the club.  Once signing on the dotted line, the Daily Mail reported that his new salary would be at the £140,000 per week mark.  According to TotalSportek.com, Walcott’s new terms would put him level with Mesut Özil as the team’s highest paid player.

While Özil certainly deserves to be Arsenal’s highest paid player, Walcott does not. Long gone are the days when the England international was practically an automatic starter for manager Arsene Wenger. As of late, 19-year-old Alex Iwobi has seized Walcott’s normal spot out on the flank.  The electric Nigerian international has helped the Gunners score 10 goals in his four Premier League starts (2.5 goals per match).  Compare those numbers to Walcott’s last nine league appearances in the starting XI after returning from a calf injury in December, when Arsenal scored just 12 goals (1.3 per game).

SEE MORE: Looking back at Theo Walcott’s decade at Arsenal

The difference between Iwobi and Walcott is clearly evident in the two players passing abilities.  Iwobi has injected more creativity into the team and his positive passing has made a difference.  According to Squawka.com, the teenager has racked up more chances created, assists, take ons, and total forward passes per 90 minutes than his teammate.  Perhaps the most telling statistic is the amount of forward passes Iwobi has played over Walcott.  The 19-year-old averages 30 total forward passes per 90 minutes, compared to just 10 during the same time frame for Walcott.

With Walcott not executing passes as well as he should be, nor scoring goals to the level that this Arsenal team needs, it may be time to end the Walcott era in north London.  The Gunners are in desperate need of a “world class” striker. The type of striker that both scores 25+ goals per season, and is worthy of being one of the highest-paid players in the squad.  If Wenger decides to cash in on Walcott, the club should expect to make a solid profit on the £9 million that cost the Gunners to acquire the winger in 2006.

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2 Comments

  1. VicBklyn April 19, 2016
  2. SEKI May 11, 2016

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