What next for Walcott?

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What next for Walcott?

Postby Reverend Gooner » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:27 pm

Season 2008/2009 will be the most important season of Theo Walcott’s career so far, indeed it could be a career defining one as we get a closer look at just how good this young man from Stanmore really is. The 19 year old moved to Arsenal for what will finally be £9.1m (decided in April 2008) in 2006 after alot of media hype and was quickly tipped for the big time. Indeed he was picked in Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad for the 2006 world cup without ever starting for Arsenal.

He had a slow start to his Arsenal career but in the last half of the 07/08 he started to put in performances which made everyone sit up and take notice including one of the greatest assists of all time against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter final when he ran past 4 or 5 players from box to box to set up Adebayor for what could have been the winning goal. After ending the season on a high note Arsenal fans are eager to see what he can produce next season, but what should be the realistic expectations for the young England international?

We have seen the ying and yang of Walcott since he came to Arsenal. Many fans were disappointed with his progress up until the halfway mark of last season. Whilst he did have some flashes of quality he was often guilty of playing too head down, not passing, too direct, dribbling not up to standard. These were some of the criticisms being laid at Walcott’s door by critics despite his young age but combined with the hype surrounding him and the expectations of being a player for a top four team even the most patient fans could be forgiven for having reservations about his true potential.

However after a spate of injuries to other players and some public criticism by captain William Gallas he stepped up to the play and put in some impressive performances when he was needed the most. His assist tally started to shoot up and his ability to beat players improved 5 fold and in situations where previously he was getting tackled he was flying past players. His off the ball movement and runs also went from scatty to threatening and he won back the place in the England squad he previously lost.

So what should we expect from Walcott next season, should we expect the inconsistent Walcott of old? Should we expect the Maradonna-esque Walcott we saw against Liverpool who after learning his trade is now ready to forward all guns ablazing? Or should we take a more measured approach and expect a steadily improving Walcott who will put in some extremely worthy performances but not on the level of the games more acclaimed stars?

The first thing to consider is if he will be a first team player. Most gooners agree that he should stroll in front of the much maligned Emmanuel Eboue but what if Hleb stays? What if his replacement takes the slot or if Rosicky gets moved to the right? Does he have what it takes to cement that place?

Ultimately we do not know but he certainly looked capable at the end of last season and it would be great for all gooners if he can pull through and reach the heady heights of premiership stardom. Career wise he does not want to be left behind next season and if he is capable of keeping off his competitors then it would surely mean that he is playing to a high level.

One problem for Walcott has always been that he is English, that he was hyped and that he came on the footsteps of Wayne Rooney who made an impact early on for club and country. The comparison and expectation has always applied more pressure on him than stars such as Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy who were allowed to bloom with much less scrutiny and expectation than Walcott has had. Luckily for him though Theo does not seem like the kind of player that gets affected too much by hype or pressure and seems quite calm and down to earth which will only serve him well being in the position he is in. However that does not stop the media and footy fans alike from expecting a certain amount from him.

The most people can expect from him is his best but what that is has yet to be seen. Next season could be the biggest in the history of Arsenal football club for a long time as the much coveted silverware must be achieved to start to fulfil the promise of Wenger’s third phase and Theo Walcott is slap bang in the thick of it. What can the young man achieve? We only have a couple of months before we start to find out, don’t miss it.

What does everyone expect from Walcott? What should be expected of him? Just how good is this young gunner?


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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby dialsquare » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:55 pm

I was one of those who felt he wasn't going to make it but after the last half of the season I have changed my tune. He has pace, good touch, can shoot and is getting stronger.

Next season he needs to be an effective part of the squad. I don't think we can accept his age as an excuse for sub standard perfromances. There are many players who have been playing top flight football at his age (Owen, Giggs, Rooney, Messi etc.) and he has the ability to be up with these.

And I think he will prove it next year.
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby StLGooner » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:08 pm

Great work Rev.
:clap:


And I think the key for Theo will be his maturity. The mental part of the game, the ups, the downs. We all know now that he has the tools to be good, maybe great, but will he be able to play consistentally good without that pressure that I assume will still be upon him. We all see that evertime he touches the ball at the Emirates how the crowd reacts. Will he be able to block that out and play within himself, and not just try to excite the crowd.
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby ozgooner » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:09 am

get him into the gym , a few more pounds on the lad couldn't hurt . that is the only area i think that needs attention straight away . he has the right temperament and attitude . we all know he has the pace , he can shoot and pass too. experience will help him with his first touches , running angles , looking for space etc .
exciting times ahead for young theo , i'm looking forward to next season and hope theo can adjust to first team football in the premiership :wink:
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Inchpräctice » Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:21 am

...even the most patient fans could be forgiven for having reservations about his true potential.


I don't agree with this bit Rev, there was no reason to panic last season when Theo had a bad day. I consider myself a fairly patient supporter and I never had any doubts about Theo.
You have to remember his age at the time. Forget about how much we paid for him, he was reserve age.
If you'd taken any reserve player and thrown them into the first team squad they'd have plenty of bad games before they got the hang of it.
I was never worried about him because right from the beginning he showed flashes of brilliance and I knew that eventually those flashes would become more common in his game.

He'll still make mistakes next season because he's still young and nowhere near the finished article, but over time those mistakes will reduce in frequency as his confidence builds. He's a work in progress, just like Bentdner or any other 19 year old at the club.
People make the mistake of comparing him to Cesc, Owen, Messi etc. but those players are one in a million.
You can't expect every 17 year old that comes to the club to be the next Cesc and be World class by the age of 18. It's not realistic.

However after a spate of injuries to other players and some public criticism by captain William Gallas..

There was no public criticism from Gallas. We discussed this at the time.
It was all bollocks by the press yet again.
WG was asked about Theo and paid him lots of compliments.
He was then asked if there was any room for improvement at all to which he replied "He needs to learn to dribble the other way because he goes to the right too much" which is fair enough.
The press then blew this out of all proportion, took it out of context and twisted it around until it said "GALLAS SLAMS THEO!" which of course is nowhere near what actually happened.

With regards to Theo's next season I would be delighted with more of the same.
As I said he's still young so I'm not expecting him to become an overnight sensation.
He will be pushing for a starting place but in fact he actually works better as an impact sub most of the time.
The problem is that he has so many players in front of him in all positions at the moment.
On the wing he'll have Nasri, Rosicky, Hleb (if he stays), Vela (if he performs better in training) and Eboue (in Wenger's eyes).
Up front he has Ade, RVP, Eduardo (when he returns) and Bendtner.

There's a lot of 'ifs' in there so if Theo plays superbly in training he can overtake a few of these players (e.g. Vela, Bendtner) and jump the queue to some extent.
But he still has them ahead of him so it's unrealistic to expect him to secure a first team starting position by the end of next season imo.
That doesn't bother me though and I wouldn't be disappointed if he doesn't secure that place for another 2 or 3 seasons. He's young and we should put out the best player in each position at any time.
If Vela or Nasri keep him out of the starting line up then so be it. As long as he doesn't get frustrated and leave I don't mind.

Next season is an important one for him, but the following ones even more so imo.
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Good_Eye_Sniper » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:49 am

I agree with Inch, I've never had any doubts about Theo, and the end of last season showed the massive progress he has made.

He wont be pushed off the ball now, and his passing and awareness is 200% better.

Not only that but he's shown that he can grab a game by the scruff of the neck and make things happen : something that we have been crying out for since Pires left.

Next season is going to be all about Theo, mark my words :wink:
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby gzagee » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:18 pm

The first few games of the season (if he gets enough game time) will go a long way to identifying how much he's come on. I should think he'll want to throw a few selection dilemnas into AW's thoughts.
I can't wait to see him take off...
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby TartanRaven » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:50 am

ozgooner wrote:get him into the gym , a few more pounds on the lad couldn't hurt . that is the only area i think that needs attention straight away . he has the right temperament and attitude . we all know he has the pace , he can shoot and pass too. experience will help him with his first touches , running angles , looking for space etc .
exciting times ahead for young theo , i'm looking forward to next season and hope theo can adjust to first team football in the premiership :wink:

I agree. He has the speed, the aim, the mentality...now he needs the bulk to go with it. Speed and footwork can keep the defender off the ball well enough, but from what I've been seeing, the major matches are becoming more and more physical. Its like Ade...he is a large man, with the bulk to withstand the tackles.

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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Good_Eye_Sniper » Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:56 am

raven65az wrote:
ozgooner wrote:get him into the gym , a few more pounds on the lad couldn't hurt . that is the only area i think that needs attention straight away . he has the right temperament and attitude . we all know he has the pace , he can shoot and pass too. experience will help him with his first touches , running angles , looking for space etc .
exciting times ahead for young theo , i'm looking forward to next season and hope theo can adjust to first team football in the premiership :wink:

I agree. He has the speed, the aim, the mentality...now he needs the bulk to go with it. Speed and footwork can keep the defender off the ball well enough, but from what I've been seeing, the major matches are becoming more and more physical. Its like Ade...he is a large man, with the bulk to withstand the tackles.

Scott


Shrugged off a few tackles here for a little lad didn't he? :wink: :clap:
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Sphynx » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:55 pm

Would you guys prefer to see him upfront or on the wing? Personally I think he should be played on the wing, With the permission to drift inside while Eboue covers for him on the wing.

If he bulks up more he could loose some of his pace, But will still run circles around most defensive players.
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Sphynx » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:25 am

Well! from what i've just read... The number 14 jersey is NEXT for Walcott!

What are your thoughts on this, As we all know who's number THAT was?

More pressure for the lad? Or something to motivate him to show his true potential?
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Re: What next for Walcott?

Postby Cheese » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:11 pm

Sphynx wrote:Well! from what i've just read... The number 14 jersey is NEXT for Walcott!

What are your thoughts on this, As we all know who's number THAT was?

More pressure for the lad? Or something to motivate him to show his true potential?


The is already a thread on this subject... Theos Burden - The Weight that is TW14
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