Rewind a few months and you had a significant chunk of Arsenal supporters debating whether Theo Walcott’s future at the club would last any longer than a tug-of-war during the summer window.
A number of clubs were linked with the 27-year-old forward and given his ability, it was no surprise to see his name linked with a move away from the Emirates despite his eagerness to remain with the Gunners.
He’s always seemed to play with added expectation on his game, especially in the last few years where excellent form has been cruelly halted by injury and consistency is consequently harder to come by.
The age-old way to describe Walcott is a talented player with plenty of promise, but one who hasn’t matured much since his first steps in north London as a baby-faced teenager from Southampton.
This season has been an excellent one for him thus far, and there’s no reason why he can’t continue his string of effective performances in the final third once the current international break is over.
He’s netted eight goals and created two assists in all competitions, and we’re still only in November. One goal shy of his tally for the whole of the 2015/16 campaign, the forward himself has revealed he’s a new man with an increased work ethic.
It’s clear to see that he is now works tirelessly out of possession just as he does with the ball at his feet.
13 tackles in the Premier League is one of Arsenal’s highest in the senior side and it just reiterates his improvement defensively, which is an under-rated asset for any winger to have. Having been omitted from England’s Euro 2016 squad for a lack of minutes (and form) in Arsenal colours towards the end of last season, it proved effective motivation for Theo as he continues to take steps towards silencing his critics.
Recently, Walcott, who spends his free time playing golf with Arsenal legend, Ian Wright, spoke to the matchday programme, and he had this to say about his defensive work: “I‘ve tried to up my work-rate on behalf of the whole team, look to start the press, get among the opposition and get physical.
“That’s been getting me rewards. I obviously have to continue like that, and not slack off.”
When questioned about his attitude change: “I want to make sure I’m doing my part right, and it comes down to my attitude. You sometimes get more of a thrill out of a decent tackle than a goal – it’s weird. I’ve done it before in one-off games, but it’s important to do it in every game.
“Every game in the Premier League is difficult, so if you want to win you have to be at your best. The fans expect it every week, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it. If the fans see us giving it a go every single game, they’ll be right behind us.
“It should be that you can barely walk after coming off the pitch because you’ve given everything.
“It’s actually since the end of February. I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted and thought I needed to change something.
“I started to change the small things and noticed it was helping me at the weekends, I’ve kept it going ever since.”
Long may it continue, as Walcott looks to maintain his level of consistency with a tough run of fixtures coming thick-and-fast in the next few weeks.