Article written by: Thomas Niemiec
As the new campaign gets underway with much excitement revolving around the Emirates summer revolution, Arsenal fans will currently have one eye on Theo Walcott who enters the last year of his current contract.
At 23 years of age, Theo Walcott has already donned the red of Arsenal for an impressive six years, with a great deal of potential yet to come. Having earned such praise from the likes of Lionel Messi who once labelled Walcott as “one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against,” there is no doubting the ability and athleticism of one of England’s brightest young talents.
In recent weeks Arsene Wenger has admitted that the club are still trying to extend Walcott’s current deal, sparking a sense of hesitancy amongst fans having recently lost players in similar situations. Of course there has been much speculation in the press with regards to wage demands and other such typical hear-say that is rumoured to be stalling talks between player and club, as the media circus typically goes with players when contract discussions are on-going.
However, with the emergence of players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has gone from strength to strength under Wenger’s guard, it was difficult for fans not to evaluate the two players against one another. The consistency and influential performances of the Ox last season cast doubt over Walcott’s selection in the starting eleven, which may seem harsh given Walcott’s pedigree as someone who has proved capable of changing games at the highest level (evident with Messi’s praise after Walcott salvaged a 2-2 draw with Barca at the Emirates in the 2010).
Throughout his career Walcott has taken a lot of criticism from pundits and even myself as a fan. I find Theo Walcott to be one of the most frustrating players to watch, capable of moments of brilliance and moments of despair. He is a player who on his day can impact a game like no other, yet the occurrence of such moments seem to be far and few between.
At the top level of any top European league players are expected to achieve a certain level of performance each game, something the likes of Mikel Arteta mastered last year earning him the clubs vice-captaincy. Walcott however can disappear in too many games, giving performances that do neither himself nor the club justice.
Arsenal’s opener against Sunderland last week is a prime example of Walcott’s inconsistency, rarely penetrating the opposing defence and again firing blanks in the final third of the pitch with Wenger replacing him with Andrei Arshavin in the closing stages of the match.
If rumours are true that Walcott is stalling contract negotiations over wage demands its time these demands were justified with consistency and work rate on the field. I would hope to see Walcott sign another deal with Arsenal as I believe at 23 he has all the traits of a future world class player, but having spent 6 years learning his trade at a top European club it’s now time to put potential into practice over the course of a season, and with Robin Van Persie no longer at the attacking helm Walcott should be relishing the chance to impact the team how we all know he can.
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