There’s no denying it – Theo Walcott is a changed player this season.
Often frustrating, not because of his lack of talent but rather his lack of application unless it was time for a new contract, at which time we got to see exactly what he had in his locker, Theo found himself dumped from the starting XI at the end of last season and he had no-one to blame but himself.
Now, this campaign, after a summer in which many speculated about his time at the club coming to an end (and most weren’t too bothered) we are finally seeing the player we all knew was in there that he seemed too lazy to show for large parts of the last decade.
Five goals and one assist in seven games so far this season, Walcott is just four goals short of the total he scored in the whole of last season.
So what changed?
Theo explained the situation to BT Sport before the game against Basel on Tuesday night when he grabbed another brace.
“I’ve changed, I’ve changed my whole setup in how I approach every day, coming in to training, coming in to matches, the way I prepare myself.
“Towards the backend of last season, when I wasn’t getting many opportunities, I sat down with people. I’ve had to change how I approach the game.
“I just want the team to win and if I work tremendously hard, the team is going to benefit with that.
“I’m not going to say that, am I? [what he and Wenger spoke about] (laughs)
“I wouldn’t say things have been difficult for 18 months. When I go back home and see my little boy, that’s not difficult at all, it puts things in perspective at times
“Maybe before I was getting too comfortable, playing and just thinking ‘I can do this now,’ and not actually thinking I need to stay extra, I need to be in on days off, I need to work harder in the gym than anyone else.
“These are small things but they do add up when you look at the grand scheme of it.”
About the game against Chelsea, he added, “We just wanted it more.
“We worked tremendously hard from front and back, it was a statement for the Premier League itself to beat a very strong Chelsea team.
“We’re generally not too bothered about that, as players we just need to forget about this result and move on.
“This club needs to be doing better, even though we finished second last year towards the end it wasn’t great.
“But, if it was a disappointment to finish second, that’s not a bad way to go.
“We’ve got hopes this season.”
If Theo keeps this form up for the whole season and injuries finally give him a break, he could well be in the mix for player of the season across the division.
He’s always been that good.
He’s just never been that focused.
Can he keep it up? Let’s hope so.