Written by Scotty Davis Gooner on Thursday, 13 September 2012 11:45
Imagine how it must feel? Bursting onto the scene at Championship club, Southampton, lighting up the league with your blistering pace and impressing someone with as high a profile in the game as Arsene Wenger? So much so that he then decides to spend millions of pounds on you, draft you into his Arsenal side and you perform to the standard that warrants International recognition.
All of this and you’ve barely been old enough to drive for a year, or purchase alcohol for that matter.
So, whilst the new kid on the block, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career is beginning to flourish, a question mark levitates over the head of the once BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, Theo Walcott.
With less than one year remaining on his current Arsenal contract, having rejected a five year deal reportedly worth £75,000-a-week, it’s almost impossible to calculate which direction his career will turn next. Manager, Arsene Wenger insists that Walcott is “not obsessed with money” and that he “thinks Theo loves the club”, but having started on the bench for two of Arsenal’s three games this season (being substituted in the other) it appears more so that with a fully fit squad, Walcott perhaps wouldn’t be the certain starter he has been in seasons past.
From a footballing perspective, Walcott is blessed with the one attribute any player would wish to have; he’s lightening quick. He has such an advantage on a large majority of players and I believe because of this, the game of football should be easy for him, and at times, effortless. But too often then not, I feel he makes situations more complicated for himself.
“Don’t think, just run!!” I find myself shouting on many occasions.
I’ve heard many Arsenal supporters refer to him as lacking a ‘footballing brain’, something of which I think is a tad harsh, however I do wish he used his speed more and attacked space more frequently. Often when there is a gap to run into, he’ll check back. Now whether that’s an instruction of Wenger’s remains unknown, but given the amount of players in the past he’s purchased who look very much at home running at an opponent, I’d highly doubt so.
Like Chamberlain is beginning to do so, Walcott has progressed from when we first signed him, but I don't think he's progressed at the rate we all (Arsene included) expected him too. Injuries have played there part over the years, and his reoccurring shoulder problem has a tendency to strike just as he’s building up some form of consistency. Whilst appearing to hamper or stall his progression from a tactical sense, Walcott has however developed into one of our most effective players when it comes to both creating & scoring goals. Last season he scored 11, creating 13 in the process whilst the season before he made 9 as well as finding the net 13 times. No one in this squad scores as many as they create, except for him and that’s where his and his agent’s contract rejection side of the argument is on paper at least, justified.
As a man, what I like (admire)most about him is as far as modern day, English footballers go; he's been an absolute class act off the pitch as well as on it and has represented The Arsenal superbly. The way he's conducted himself during his time at our club, for such a young man as well, has been tremendous and if he were to leave at the end of the current season it’s this I think I’d miss the most.
When it comes to football though, I believe the footballer is replaceable. What’s most likely more disappointing for him, I’d imagine on a personal level is the specific player who recently it seems, offers more than what Walcott does. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given the nod ahead of Walcott in Arsenal’s recent victory at Anfield and what was most noticeable was the tactical awareness he showed in covering and protecting his full back, Carl Jenkinson. Yes he’s a ‘bums off seats’ player, which Theo can be, but at four years Walcott’s junior he showed a willingness to defend, and his positional sense throughout the game was on a level we’ve rarely seen from Walcott. Whereas with England also, it now seems ‘The Ox’ is ahead of Walcott in the pecking order as well.
Next March, Walcott turns 24. It’s at this point in his career that he should be at his most explosive, hitting his peak, and really showing the final stages of true development. He should be settled, starting games, playing regularly, scoring goals and knowing exactly where he’s going to be next season.
None of which is apparent at this moment in time. Concerned? He should be.
The majority I speak too are far more excited with what the future of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has to offer.
Scotty Davis Gooner
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