Overrated, inherently inconsistent or simply inhibited by circumstance? I myself have, at various times, fallen into all three of those camps but have never lost hope that the former/current/future Saviour of English Football (TM) would one day live up to the promise that was promised to us by those football experts who had watched his YouTube video back in 2005/6.

After starting this season in absolutely stunning form - and finally looking to deliver on that promise –  he was (surprise, surprise) injured while on international duty in an innocuous looking challenge off the ball. While England were still celebrating their goal he was being stretchered off with an understandably grumpy look on his face and was to again spend a number of weeks in the Arsenal medical room playing charades with Robin van Persie and training hard to build up his tolerance for perpetual disappointment (presumably).

Whether or not this injury will set his development back remains to be seen, but what has been noticeable is that in the two games he has played since returning commentators have been very quick to highlight the same old flaws in Walcott’s game – those which he seemed to have maybe, potentially and possibly successfully eradicated pre-injury. His early purple patch now just a hazy memory, it is as if they are already anticipating that this setback will lead to an extended period of frustration and inconsistency and have already written him off as the same ol’ Theo who runs blind into alleys and tackles himself with alarming regularity.

But harsh as that may seem (especially to us loyal, honest, god-fearing, English Arsenal fans, who want him to succeed more than anything) there is something very understandable about this perception and for proof of this we really only need to look back in time at the memorable moments from his football career since joining us in January 2006. Massive achievements have almost always been followed by huge disappointments which have, in turn, been followed by long periods of inconsistency. It’s like a never-ending cycle that he has yet to break out of and we can only hope for our, his and England’s sake that he can break it this time around.

Look at the following moments from Walcott’s career - arguably his most memorable achievements - and see if you can spot a pattern:

2006 – Part of the England World Cup squad aged just 17

2007 – Scores first goal for Arsenal against Chelsea in the League Cup final

2008 – Scores first two Premiership goals for Arsenal against Birmingham

2008 – Makes that run and assist in the Champion’s League quarter-final against Liverpool

2009 – Scores a hat-trick for England against Croatia

2010 – Scores a hat-trick against Blackpool

Now what may or may not be evident from looking at that list – which includes some phenomenal stuff, you have to admit – is that Walcott is incredibly unlucky. I mean ridiculously and almost-but-actually-not-at-all laughably unlucky. Why, you may or may not ask? Because every single one of those events has been followed by a massive, massive disappointment. If I may:

2006 – Part of the England World Cup squad aged just 17

Part of the England squad –  great! Doesn’t play at all – terrible. Ridiculed and labelled not good enough – soul-destroying. Takes a long time to recover...until:

2007 – Scores first goal for Arsenal against Chelsea in the League Cup final

First goal for Arsenal – fantastic! In a cup final – amazing! We eventually lose to Chelsea – heartbreaking. To a late Drogba goal - *sigh*...however:

2008 – Scores first two Premiership goals for Arsenal against Birmingham

First Premiership goals for Arsenal – super! Brings us back to 2-1 – justice! Same game as Eduardo’s injury – horrible. We concede a last minute penalty and draw – nightmare. Arguably costs us the title – depressing...but at least there was:

2008 – Makes that run and assist in the Champion’s League quarter-final against Liverpool

Moment of sheer brilliance –  yay! To help us beat Liverpool – um. Penalty two minutes later – no. Out of the competition – typical. Season finished – again...then a bit of a wait until:

2009 – Scores a hat-trick for England against Croatia

Hat-trick for England – at last! Against our biggest rivals - ! Run of great form (goals against Everton and Fenerbahçe) – deserved. Injured while away with England – as per. Out for five months – is that all...and then:

2010 – Scores a hat-trick against Blackpool

Hat-trick against Blackpool –  best display ever?! Goal against Blackburn – brimming with confidence! Back in the England team – great! Injured again – ah, yes.

Ignoring my stupid summaries and concentrating on the issues I think it’s fair to say that Walcott has had a most remarkable succession of false dawns and can truly be counted as one of the unluckiest Arsenal players in recent history. He has barely had any time to celebrate any of his achievements before lady fate has brought her fat hand out of the sky to crush his brittle little dreams and rip his heart or (more commonly) his shoulder right out of his puny, weak, little child body. There are even others that can arguably be added to the list - such as his goal against Chelsea in the 2-1 FA Cup semi-final loss at Wembley or any one of his other injuries – and I often dream of what would have happened had even one or two of these successes been followed by other, further success.

But the fact is that they haven’t and he has typically taken a long, long time to rediscover his form, especially after his injuries.  In light of this I think that pundits, commentators and other ‘experts’ have every right to write off Mr. Walcott for the next five months, despite the fact that their opinions are based on nothing but bias and selective memory as opposed to any informed or detailed consideration of the facts (such as this J).

I, however, will take each game as it comes, and with a Carling Cup game approaching, the Man City win in the bag and the team looking confident there has never been a better opportunity for him to buck the trend. So let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that honest little Walcott will finally keep his promise and come back as strong as he left us because if he does I have a feeling that this could be a very special season for everyone at AFC.

Will Benn