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When Theo Walcott joined Arsenal in 2006 it was big money signing for a young boy who had not really proved himself at Southampton, but showed bags of potential. This potential earned him a surprise call up to the World Cup squad, but he did not feature at all. Arsene Wenger had seen enough though and he brought him to the Emirates. He made his debut on the 19th August 2006 against Aston Villa where he made a valuable contribution for Gilberto’s goal. Already he was showing just how much potential he has.
Since then he became the youngest Arsenal player to play in Europe when he played in the qualifier against Croatia Zagreb. Fabio Capello seems very keen on Theo with regular call ups and his goals against Croatia in the qualifiers signified his entrance on the international scene. Theo has everything needed to make him the best; mental strength, skill, sprinter like speed, an eye for goal (although he really should score more goals) and is not scared of putting a foot in to help out his defence. With all of these attributes and playing regularly for club and country, has Theo filled his potential, his potential to be the best? I don’t believe he has.
Theo is a defenders nightmare. When someone can run at you with such speed and skill, as a defender you do not know what to do. Over the last few seasons he looks more and more comfortable with the way Arsenal play and although Wenger and Theo himself, sees his future up front he has made the right wing his own since Freddie left. When you have such a talent in your side it is easy to get frustrated when they do not perform on a regular basis. The frustration in Theo comes as a result of his poor goalscoring rate and erratic final ball. There are times when it looks like he has done all the hard work but he just can’t seem to produce around the penalty area. It is true when running at such speeds it is very difficult to put away a shot or put in an accurate cross, but it is crutial that he develops his game to not purely rely on his pace.
When looking for Theo’s rivals you have to look no further then Cristiano Ronaldo. He came as a boy full of tricks and no end production and developed into possibly the greatest player in the world alongside Messi. In my opinion Theo can be that good and that dangerous and he shows glimpses of this magic. One of the most special moments for him, which is forgotten into football wilderness is the ‘maradona’esque run he did at Anfield when we lost 4-3 in CL. The way he worked through a team who base themselves on defence first was just astonishing. The dislocated shoulder came at a bad time for Theo last year, he was playing regularly and the injury ruled him out for a long period of time but coming into the new season, looking back over Theo’s career to date, it is difficult to feel that Theo has filled his potential. Time has moved on and excuses have to be put aside. He is no longer a boy and this has to be the season that Theo steps up and shows he is world class. I think he will do just that.
Somebody who I think will be crutial to Theo’s development is Andrey Arshavin. He is a player with similar characteristics and abilities. Major difference is that he, Arshavin, gets involved in the game much more even though he is playing on the wing, we have all seen he can create something out of nothing, score incredible goals and can assist the rest of the team. This is what we need and expect of Theo and playing alongside Arshavin can only benefit him. It will be interesting to see how Theo plays this season as since Arshavin only arrived in January, he has not had a lot of time to play with him and supplement his own game with things he may have picked up.
This is the season for Theo and I believe he will make a statement of intent scoring 10 league goals and producing assists for the rest of the team. He is one of the youngsters that Arsene Wenger has spent so much time meticulously moulding. It is now time to stop talking about potential and show why ‘THE ARSENAL’ way is the ‘BEST’ way.