Today marks 10 years since Theo Walcott signed for Arsenal.
I’ve long made no secret of my admiration for Walcott; certainly he has been the subject of some heated debates between myself and the erstwhile Paul Williams over the years.
He is Arsenal’s longest serving player since Diaby and Djourou, and the first since the legendary Dennis Bergkamp to spend a full decade at the club, with Tomas Rosicky due to join him on that milestone in the summer. In that time we have seen first hand his transition from a baby-faced boy to a clean cut man, from an erratic speedster to a deadly marksman.
Of course, we still don’t make the most of Theo’s strengths. Arsene talks with some regularity about the quality and timing of his runs, going so far as to describe them as ‘perfect’ this week, but we still don’t play enough balls through the lines or over the top for him to capitalise on.
It’s the one thing that still disappoints me most about Mesut Ozil’s game: that he hasn’t yet found the same wavelength as Walcott.
Although I hate to blaspheme on an Arsenal site, my Spurs supporting other half now waxes lyrical about the number of times Toby Alderweireld manages to find Adele* Alli’s runs, and that is exactly how we should be talking about Ozil and Walcott’s connection.
*if you type Dele on an apple device, it defaults to Adele. Coined.
That said, Walcott remains a very potent weapon in our attack, even when he’s seemingly not involved in play himself. It changes how teams defend against us and creates more space for the likes of Giroud and Ramsey to play off each other and he would walk into pretty much any other Premier League side.
If we can extract the maximum from Theo going forward, it could be the catalist for our most successful season in the entire decade he has been at the club.
Many players never lose their pace, they just lose the ability to use it for a full 90 minutes (just ask Thierry Henry!). So at just 26, Theo still has the potential to play some part in our squad for the best part of another decade too, form and fitness notwithstanding.
Here’s to the next 10.