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The Why of Walcott

As the dust begins to settle on the 'once in a blue moon` defeat to Spurs (getcha DVD and commemorative mug- the word 'mug` in this case proving incredibly apt), I`ve been taking stock of things for a few days. Whilst those of us who stayed beyond 59 minutes on Tuesday night deserve commendation for our support, quite perplexing sight was that of legions of our supporters beginning to express their anger at Theo Walcott. A guy sat in front of me berated him for most of the 65 minutes he was on the pitch. What struck me most about this occurrence is that I see that guy at every away game and know that last season his shirt had `32 Walcott` on the back of it! I feel that sets and interesting paradigm for the way that Arsenal fans, and English football supporters in general appear to ride roughshod over their senses when it comes to finding a scapegoat.

It is true that Walcott has looked a player very low on confidence of late; his last two performances have been very below par. But in truth, I feel desperately sorry for the kid. Because he is a victim of circumstances way beyond his control. Much like Steven Gerrard in an England shirt, people have hyped Theo to unrealistic proportions, set him standards that he has yet to attain, so when he falls short of these imagined standards, we are apparently given free license to vent our spleen and explicate some kind of collective vitriol. (The difference here being that Saint Stevie gets a free reign from the press. It`s those foreigners, it`s their fault eh Stevie? Or that nasty boardroom struggle, that`s what makes you so average). What I am reaching at here is not an assessment of Walcott`s form, which has been patchy (as one would expect from a TEENAGER) but of the perplexing psyche of the machine that surrounds him, media and its lapdog, the football fan, all indulge in this nauseating microwave culture that hinders the likes of Walcott.

Given what we have seen of Walcott so far, it is reasonable to assume he has the POTENTIAL to be, at least, a very good footballer. His season curtailed last March with Theo having given his team mates eight assists, an impressive number for a bit part player. His performance upfront against the admittedly terrible Slavia Praha was devastating and he has shown coolness in front of goal that belies his tender years. Of late, he has looked short on confidence and turned in some insipid displays. But the stupidity of this situation is that if Walcott held a different passport, he would be largely left alone to develop in the way that van Persie, Fabregas, Toure and Clichy were. Instead, the kid is hounded and built up as the second coming (in retrospect, his inclusion in the World Cup squad hardly helped) and shot down just as quickly. The national media and their treatment of young players, insulates them to the point that they either crumble under the pressure and fade into mediocrity or believe their own hype and, well, fade into mediocrity.

So the media are self serving, sanctimonious arseholes with the moral code of an alley cat. You knew that right? So why the hell have Arsenal fans been so easily taken in by tabloids and broadsheets alike? Seriously, are you that stupid? The analogy of Pavlov`s Dogs comes back to me time and again, ring a bell and watch them salivate. On Theo`s debut at home to Aston Villa, he put in a cross which eventually led to an equaliser and the Gooner nation went nuts for him as hyperbole spewed from every orifice. Fast forward eighteen months and we have a thread on this very forum that says, "Theo will never make it." Why people cannot see the absurdity of completely writing off a kid who is not yet 19 defeats me, it really does. Walcott is a player of potential, that is all he has ever been, so please don`t bag the kid because he`s not turned into this immediate world star and taken to our voyeuristic gazing and pathetic doting. I know he cost £5m, eventually rising to £12m, but that is not his fault, so why he should receive the flack for that I am not quite sure. He did not choose to be selected in a World Cup squad having never played a top flight game. It`s not his fault he happens to be English. Yet these are the reasons that the spotlight is exuded on him with such garish focus. And most Arsenal supporters have taken it hook, line and sinker.

By way of comparison, let us look at Denilson. In his appearances so far this season, he has not quite looked the immense talent he did last season, he has looked much more ordinary and much more, well, like a teenager. So come on Gooners. Why are you not berating him as well? Why is his every appearance not unbearably scrutinised? Why aren`t there any threads on the forum saying, "Denilson will never make it?" Would it be because your copy of the Sun or the Times or the Guardian or which ever self serving tissue of lies you read is not telling you to? Dr. Pavlov ain`t ringing the bell, so you ain`t hungry, is that it?

While it is safe to say that Walcott is not a winger, it has been key for his development for him to serve his apprenticeship out there. One common denominator in English players is a lack of technique, Theo certainly suffers from this. Doubtless because, since he was young, his coaches merely instructed him to "run after the ball very, very fast when it gets near you." Wenger seeks to aid his technique and ball control out on the wing, where his blistering pace can also be an asset. This is where Wenger differs from other managers; he irons out the weaknesses in a player. Take a look at Aaron Lennon, two years ago hailed as the young prodigy; his development has been zero in the ensuing time because he has added nothing to his game but for a burst of speed and a right foot. But in predictably English fashion, we won`t afford Theo the time or the patience to develop as a player. No, no. Far more sensible to inflate his status to that of messiah before publicly stoning him for an ability to turn water into wine. It brings me back to the gentleman I mentioned from Tuesday night. He faithfully bought his Walcott shirt at the beginning of last season, with zero knowledge of the player other than the hype that surrounded him. Now that he is not obtaining these entirely false standards, heaped on his shoulders by others, that gentleman feels indignation at Walcott. And now we have a player, written off as a failure before his 19th birthday. Is it any wonder Wenger goes with the foreigners?LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 25 2008

Time: 10:51AM

Your Comments

Give Theo a start upfront alongside Adebayor & see what happens. The only time Walcott actually gets a game is alongside the rest of the reserves/back-ups/youngsters. Maybe it would be more beneficial to him to play alongside the better players that will actually create chances for him or at the very least give him some service. It's no coincidence his better performances have come when a larger portion of first team players were on the field!! This also applies to Denilson & Diaby. It's unrealistic to expect a team containing 7-8 youngsters or very inexperienced players to carry the club in more important matches. They can all go on to be great players but it won't happen if they never play or only play with the reserve squad..................LD, Diaby is another who has suffered at the hands of the press & from what I can see the only thing the guy lacks is experience. He makes bad decisions with his late passing at the moment, but what do people expect when he doesn't play from one month to the next??
Ashburton Gooner
I happen to think that right now, Diaby lacks work ethic. Simple.
Little Dutch
Excellent point AG!
I, like many other Gooners, feel that he is not good enough to start matches for Arsenal. Not that I think he never will be. I just don't understand how we can use him when he is obviousley not up to scratch at the moment? If he was playing well in 2/5 games than possibly give him a chance but unless he is used as a sub he is dire. I would like to see him on loan to a middle teir club. (think of the strain he would be put under if he was expected to come and save a Darby or a Fulham)
I say give him some sub appearances up front and see if we can get some confidence back into him. we might need him later in the season. I dont think he has made or will make a good winger, not unless he can beat his man.
Diaby definitely lacks work ethic. He looks like he can't be arsed a lot of the time.
I really like Diaby. he has got a great amount of ability he just does not know how to use it.
The hype does screw things up, but only when people don't think for themselves or want immediate gratification every time. It's quite simple - give the guy time. I think that if Theo fights through the pathetic storm engulfing him, with Wenger's nurturing, he will become a player that we will marvel at for a decade. How we fit him in to allow him playing time though is another difficulty altogether.
Well said LD in your article. It's simply that we all saw fantastic footage of Theo when at Southampton, our desire to have an English player succeed at Arsenal, and the fact that he was included in the World Cup squad that everyone's expectations have been superficially inflated. This probably affects Theo too because to my mind he just tries too hard to impress when he comes on. As does Diaby. Rest assuered, we can trust Arsene, because if he continues to play him, it's because he sees something there. Theo still has so much development ahead of him - technical, mental and physical. Now it wouldn't surprise us if Theo goes on to be one of Europe's top strikers in 5 years, would it?
I agree the hype was too much...but don't blame gunners. Sometimes it seems walcotts inclusion in a game costs us games...and thats where the frustration is. I was one of Theo's detarctors and seriously i still do not have much cause to retract. I am sorry to still say i dont really think he will make the grade and i desperately hope he proves me wrong. Denilson and Diarby or late havnt been great either...but take a look at their first touches...u can actually see "something" when u look at them...the other thing is...we can actually do without these two to a large extent. But The has become more and more important - bcos of injury to RVP....Eboues absence..and also up untill a few games ago we were still waiting for Eduardo to adapt to the PL. I am of the opinion that a top team - such as we are- needs two top finishers and one above average finisher. we have one in Ade...i am tempted to count out RVP this season...lets face it. so someone else needs to step up...I think we may do well to laon out Theo for a while and bring in a striker...or continue trying to develop Theo, wait on a "promising" Bendtner at the cost of laurels.
I agree with every single word of that LD. Not that any player should be immune from criticism but to receive the flak he has because the 'wonderkid' hype of the media isn't matched by the reality of a kid spending 2 years in the headlights before his 19th birthday defies belief. It can be accepted to some degree from those idiots outside the club who see no paradox in comparing him with players 2 or 3 years older who are struggling just as much to achieve consistency but you would hope gooners might apply a little logic. He is just a year or so older than Merida, Barazite, Randall, Lansbury none of whom have any immediate prospect of making the level of first team appearances that Theo has made. He has had some good games and some poor ones but if you are looking to integrate young players into the team as part of their development there is no option but to play them sometimes. Of course it's a risk and sometimes young players let us down but it has to be done and we should be more impressed that he has been able to put in the performances that he has at his age rather than dismayed that he hasn't achieved god like status and faultless performances at the age of 18.
LD, if Diaby lacks work ethic so does Walcott, so you have just answered your own article!!
Ashburton Gooner
Amos - I agree. Let's get it into perspective, he's not a Maradona or Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) like prodigy, both who did not look out of place at the highest level whilst they were teenagers. Theo's just a very good prospect. And it wasn't as though he was already at a Premier League club, he's had to step up a level from a division lower.
No offence but I want Theo to start a couple of reserve games to get his form and confidence back, without those he is just a medicore player. It might do him some good. Also, Gibbs should make a couple of sub appearences. He's older (19) than Theo but has yet to get a first team nod.
Well written LD, at last someone is sticking up for Theo. We bagged Helb , Flam etc and now we are bagging Theo. Of course we want him to succeed and the Boss has said so many times he is making him play on the right to develop him. Will we do the same to Freeman? As for the DVD by spuds read this one gees you would think they had won the everything what a load of wan@ers.
It's questionable whether either Ronaldo or Maradona were that much of a prodigy. Ronaldo was going on 19 when he joined PSV (and most Dutch players will tell you that 90% of the Dutch Eredivisie isn't that demanding a level) and going on 21 when he joined Barca. Similarly Mardona was going on 22 when he started playing at a decent level with Boca Juniors. Both were truly exceptional players but expectations of either of them didn't exceed those of Theo at the age of 18.
AG, how does saying Diaby has been lazy apply to Walcott? I'm confused. Diaby has been plain lazy on the pitch, Walcott hasn't been lazy as such, he's just been below par. There is a difference. Diaby already has all the faculties to succeed at Arsenal, he's choosing not to at the moment. Theo's case is completely different.
Little Dutch
One other point worth making about both Ronaldo and Maradona is that their physical development was advanced for their ages maybe that's why their careers didn't extend as long as their talents would have indicated). Rooney has the same advantage of physical maturity. Theo lacks this and, as with Cesc, we may have to wait for nature to give him a hand before we judge him too critically. Cristiano has benefited enormously over the last couple of seasons from the muscle he has put on.
Excellent points LD and AG. I think everyone knows the hype coupled by the World Cup inclusion is straining his performances. I want to know where Lampard, Stevie G, Henry, Pires, Vieira et all were when they were 18. Were they half as good as Walcott is now? I think not!
Amos - I agree with your comments about Ronaldo but not Maradona, whose career I have followed very closely. Maradona made his First Division league debut at the age of 15 in the rough, tough Argentinian leagues. He also made his full international debut at 16 years old. He then inspired Argentina to the World Youth Cup at 19 years old.
I think the apparent £12m transfer fee is causing most of the hype. Would the media follow him so closely if he was a £ 2,3,4m signing?
That's a good point about physical development, it's not something you can induce either. Gerrard was a pretty scrawny teenager and when Liverpool's solution was to make him hit the weights, he suffered all sorts of muscle injuries. It's something that has to come naturally, and doesn't tend to happen until the age of 22 or so. As somebody who has just past that age, I have some advice for Theo, don't drink Guinness. It'll beef you up, just not in the way you would like!
Little Dutch
LD, I totally disagree with you!! You have written many articles & even more comments on these pages & as you know a lot of the time I agree with you & very occasionally I disagree. However the one thing I would never have accused you of was being biased over Arsenal players, but thats exactly how it comes across in this instance. Diaby does have the technique, maybe because he works on it, whereas Walcott despite being at Arsenal for 2 years hasn't improved his at all, I also fail to see why Walcott hasn't worked on one of the biggest flaws in his game, his strength. I think you are basing your comments on Diaby by the fact he can look miserable on the pitch. You talked above about how the media & now some fans treat Walcott, yet the fact is he only has to warm up to get chants of "Theo, Theo", I don't see Diaby being afforded that luxury & he never has been. Diaby suffered a career threatening injury because of an awful challenge & hasn't played regularly since (he was expected to come back the same player as before the injury), Walcott on the other hand had an injury which was a problem but was certainly never going to damage his long term future, yet ever since then he has been allowed to use it as an excuse for poor mentality on the pitch!! I think their situations are very similar but for different reasons & I don't see how you can just write off Diaby as lazy but Walcott as unfortunate!! Maybe if people supported Diaby rather than instantly getting on his back, then its possible you would see an improvement. Its even possible that Diaby is actually scared of getting the ball right now for fear of doing something wrong & the crowd yet again turning on him!!
Ashburton Gooner
I will be honest and say Walcott is the most frustrating player i watch from my seat. I know some of this is down to confidence etc, but he is too often predictable, passes up shooting and very rarely delivers a ball which beats the front man. I never boo him, but i do find myself getting irriated alot when he is on.
I agree with everything in the article LD. alwaysgunner, i have also stood up for Theo against some of the people this site who have been quick to jump on the bandwagon that Theo will never make it, I even mention it in my article 'Who Will Replace Theo on the Wings?' and in various posts on the forum. The trouble with the English media is, that they expect instant results. Because we have had in the past 10 years Owen and Rooney who have become instant stars because they have had the quality from such a young age, they expect the same from Theo. The difference between those two and Theo is that by the time they were 18/19, they were playing REGULARLY for their clubs. Walcott is not. I agree with sending Theo out on loan to boost his confidence and get him playing regularly, but I agree with stukazfuss, that maybe play him up front in the reserves to get his confidence back. It might be more beneficial to the team, as we keep him incase of an injury crisis to our strikers.
Surely the point we are missing about comparisons between Diaby and Walcott is that Diaby will be 22 shortly after Walcott turns 19. Diaby's technique may well be to some extent 'natural' but much of it will be learned. We need to compare them at the same stage of development don't we? It should be less unfair to ask questions about a 21/22 year olds progress than someone 18/19.
AG has some valid points on Diaby, but that doesn't take away his lazy displays. What does not help his situation is playing as a left sided midfielder. At least Walcott on the right can/could learn to run at opponents, cross, improve his first touch, link up play etc. Diaby, touted the new PV, has constantly played on the left side where he is unable to utilize his strengths to the maximum, and honestly for a right-footed central midfielder he has coped quite well. Now that Berto is wanning as a player, And Denny is injured, I believe AW should give him a run alongside Cesc (when Flam needs a break), with more of holding role where he needs to maintain positional discipline and put in some hard tackles. His technique is second to none so it shouldn't be difficult to distribute passes in a timely manner, unlike what he's doing now on the wing. As for Theo, I wholeheartedly agree with the article.
The thing is AG, I mentioned the doting of Walcott as part of the pressure we place on him to make him our saviour. I haven't really noticed the crowd getting on Diaby's back, not at all. I know he has a languid style etc. and I rate him as a player. The fact is, in both Spurs games, the sub appearance at Pompey and at Burnley he was just out and out lazy. It's not down to Diaby's injury, because he came back from that and looked superb in the second half of last season and I really saw him pushing for a permanent place this year. But he hasn't done many yards in the last few weeks. Theo's case is different, not only is he four years Diaby's junior, I can see what you mean about a lack of technical improvement, maybe I am wrong but I really sense nerves in him when he comes on, I've never sensed that in Diaby. I think since his shoulder op you can easily see Walcott using his shoulder to lean into his opponents more, it's very noticeable how he eases them out of the way and he has improved on his tracking back recently. Working on strength is a hard thing for a teenager to do, as I said above, Walcott isn't blessed with a tough physique, but if you stick him in on the weights and makes him eat steaks, he'll end up like Owen, picking up a plethora of muscle injuries. Spurs did the same thing to the stick thin Anderton and look how that worked out. Walcott is a player of petential, Diaby is nearly 23 and has all the attributes of a top player, he needs to be working harder to make an impression on the pitch than he has been in the last month. One player who has definitely suffered the wrath of the fans is Senderos, at Fulham last week people were murmuring every time he got the ball, before he had even done anything with it, and lambasting him for punting it out of play in dangerous situations.
Little Dutch
Its true that Diaby has been playing out of position, but surely the way to get the place in the centre that he craves is to work hard? At the moment, I wouldn't give him a game in central midfield because you really can't afford passengers in that part of the pitch and Diaby doesn't seem prepared to put a hard enough shift in to jutify it. Fbregas played on the right a few years ago, Denilson has played on the left for the first team, Toure began on the left, all were clearly better deployed elsewhere, but they made that point by demonstrating their quality.
Little Dutch
Cesc, Denny and Toure played only a handful of games out of their position, while Diaby is constantly slotted on the wing. He also had some great games there (CC Final, Derby, etc.) but never got even close to playing CM. His last several lazy displays supplemented by bad decision-making is something he needs to change asap, and one of the possible ways to help him do that is play him as a CM soon, before he forgets how it is to be there. He has even notched more performances as a second striker than a central midfielder.
And since Denilson has not been at his best at CM either, I see no reason why he always gets the spot in cm and Diaby has to be shipped left.
i really wouldnt trust Diarby in the center yet. he looses the ball too much...dribbles too much. you dont need that for somone who is playing behind that position most of the time the simpler pass is better than some unnneccessart theatris which Diarby is prone to....thats what Flamini does best...get in the tacckle and give the simple pass forward...Gilberto too afew years ago...thats why one doesnt notice a holding midfielder much. At least Diarby has always had the technique. Theo has always had speep...not much positional sense of the touch.
Cesc spent about two months there playing constantly, Toure spent half a season on the wing before moving to full back and then centre half. Denislonw as the odd game. Diaby has had immense performances from the left, and is obviously better suited to the centre. But right now he hasn't earned it, we can't just acquiesce to a players whims. When Diaby puts a few more yards in and starts working ahrder on the pitch, I would definitely give him a go in the centre. But right now, I don't think a game or two at Underhill should be out of the question.
Little Dutch
*oops- positional sense or the touch
*unneccesary theatrics*
n14, he does that on the left (dribbling and losing the ball).
Part of the reason Diaby is lazy at LM is because he doesn't like that position. That isn't his natural position. I know I would put in a half hearted effort when I'm forced to do something I really dis-like. But that in no way is an excuse for him to be lazy. it's certainly an excuse that he's ****e. He played centre mid at the CC final last year and my word, what a performance it was. I say why not give him a shot at the centre? He'll certainly be better. He just needs to know when to release the ball and to whom to give it to. I'm sure he'll do that correctly when he's playing with more experienced players rather than the reserves.
WYBI, he played on the left in the CC final.
Cesc and Toure played out of position there at the very start of their Arsenal careers. Toure didn't even have a definite position - he was sort of a utility man until the masterstroke came when he was slotted next to Sol Campbell. Cesc, if memory serves me well, played right mf in CC and in the good-not-so-old times when we had PV, Pires, the old Gilberto, Freddie in midfield. Him being the wonderkid, was always going to get his CM berth. Diaby, even when excellent on the left, still got stuck there game after game and never got a run in CM. Last time I remember seeing him there was against Bolton when he did Ivan Campo.
Diaby played on the elft in the CC Final, it was probably the best performance I've seen in a Cup final for someone under 22. I can understand Diaby wants to play in the centre, but if he really wants a place he has to earn it. Flamini made it clear he didn't want to be a full time left back, but stepped in, rolled his sleeves up and did a very good job. He still steps in there from time to time. Wenger knows he's not really a left winger, the best thing Diaby can do is do his best to show what a good player he is. He's not doing that right now and a game or two in the reserves should give him the kick up the arse he clearly needs. I wouldn't be adverse to Walcott playing one or two reserve games to get some confidence back, failing that, a loan spell might do it for him.
Little Dutch
I may be wrong but in the original article nothing was made about Diaby? (Have I misread that) Diaby has ability but seems to lack confidence to push on with his career. The injury he sustained could not have come at a worse stage in his career ; but when you compare him with the likes of Flam who was pushed into the position of left back then the difference comes to the fore. Diaby must take that next step and turn the corner. He does appear lazy and no one can get away from that fact. Theo on the other hand is still only 18, with the weight of most English fans on his shoulders. You could never say he does not try, in fact he tries too hard. The comments to try him in the reserves or with a loan to another club are fanciful and maybe the answer but the overriding fact is to get off his back.
But that was the thing with Toure, he tried his hardest and demonstarted his quality, which elucidated that he would be much better at centre half (it was actually Keown who suggested that, after Toure filled in at Chelsea after Cygan had been sent off). You're right about Cesc, but he still tried his hardest. We all know Diaby is no winger, but the best he can do is play his heart out and he'll get his shot. If he continues to be so insipid, he'll just convince the manager he doesn't have the right attitude. It's the same for Diaby as it was Diarra, fight your hardest and earn your place, as Flamini did.
Little Dutch
The requirements for playing wide midfield are different from the centre but are they really all that different? The options in terms of passing direction are more limited of course and one central position usually requires a more defensive slant but passing ability, vision, technique, anticpation are all the same. We were told that Hleb and Rosicky were central midfielders but they have adapted well enough. Edu was a central midfielder that often played wide left for us. Pires did such a great job for France playing central midfield in the Confedarations Cup a while back that Vieira asked that he play that role for Arsenal. Denilson played initially in Brazil as a right midfielder before moving into the centre. Flamini has shown that he can adapt his technique to different roles irrespective of the side he plays on. Even Parlour was a central midfielder adapted to play on the right. Most players will always prefer the extra freedom that a central positon gives but a good player will always adjust - those that don't are likely to display similar limitations whatever position they play in.
I am all for loaning theo too, especially to a team that plays a more direct style of play.
When Wenger was talking about Toure's rise to prominence and the multitude of positions he played, he simply said, "good players can play anywhere." I think that's absolutely true. While it wouldn't suit his talents at all, I reckon if you played him there, Rooney would put in a half decent shift at right back.
Little Dutch
Amos, how many long-legged, 6'3'', right-footed, left wingers that can't cross to save their life do you know?
LD, how would the old PV fair on the left wing?
Probably not badly, clearly he would have been a better CM, but I reckon he'd have put in a decent shift there, certainly. Because he was a top, top player. Just as Diaby has put in many good displays on the left, my issue here is with the effort he has put in at late, it has not been satisfactory for a player whoo wants to break into the first team. It needs to improve.
Little Dutch
Alright, my bad. But what I meant to convey was Diaby can put in one the best performances if his head is into it. He's probably pis$ed off to be playing LM right now. I wonder how Rosicky would do at LM playing only once a month. i bet he would be as good as Diaby. Diaby needs games and i'm sure he'll do better, be more "not lazy" and will impress. The way things are going, he'll get only FA cup games to play.
G4L - I am not aware that so many of our left midfielders were anything other than right footed and rarely called upon for their crossing abilities whichever foot they used. A cross, whether high or low, is just another pass. If he can't make a decent one from the left he would probably struggle making one from anywhere else.
amos, taking into account that we've been scoring an increased number of headed goals via Ade, Nick, and Eduardo, I would assume that a left winger should hit a few. I honestly do not recall Abou whipping one in. He tends to cut in and let rip with his right. playing a holding CM would deffo require a lot less pacey crosses but rather more simple touches and the odd long ball. I absolutely agree LD, re his recent performances: he seems lazy.
Those headed goals have tended to come from crosses by the full backs Clichy/Sagna and the odd corner/set piece. Though Hleb has contributed at least one as I remember I wouldn't expect that to be a major demand from the midfielders. Certainly I don't recall Pires slinging too many left footed crosses in. Curiously, according to the actim stats, Cesc has put most crosses in for us - does that include corners I wonder?
Maybe even free kicks. He does take a lot of them.
Maybe Diaby should just refuse to play on the wing in future regardless of whether the club are desperate or not & that should convince Wenger he has the correct attitude & will get him his correct position as it did for Flamini. Walcott is in the team to either score goals or create chances for others, he does neither so based on comments above he also shouldn't be anywhere near the first team. Diaby is 21 & still nearly 4 months from his 22nd birthday, so well away from 23 & Theo is 2 months from being 19 so the gap isn't that massive & besides which Diaby arrived from the reserve team of Auxerre at the same time as Walcott signed & he was pretty much a first choice regular at Southampton, so who should really have been ahead in their development??.................I'm not anti Walcott as I genuinely hope he goes on to become a world beater for us, but I do think if we are going to defend him then the same support should be shown to others. After all who was it that built up Diaby as the new Vieira?? The british media, so Diaby had just as much pressure placed on his own head!! I think most Arsenal fans would agree that Vieira & Diaby are completely different type players.
Ashburton Gooner
Again, Flamini never refused to play left back. He's played there this season and last. He simply said that he didn't want it to be his permanent position. I don't think Diaby has had nearly as much pressure as Walcott. My issue here isn't with development, I'm not denying theo is not there yet, but he's further ahead than Diaby when he was 19. My issue with Diaby is that he has developed at a reasonable rate, but he has been very, very lazy in the last five or sixx appearances. It's not excusable. Walcott finished last season second to Fabregas in the assists chart, so he obviously does provide goals. Like I said in the article, this isn't an assessment of Walcott as such, but an insight into the attitude that has governed him.
Little Dutch
wenger has said Theo is going nowhere on loan
i think Theo and Ade could make a great partnership. Imagine being a defender and having to cope with the sheer power of Adebayor(as well as his speed and skill) and the raw pace of Theo. Terrifying!
I dont share your enthusiasm yet Rob....see this story --- seems we are to be without RVP for much longer....for a very important phase
I knida think we need someone still....but what do i know
He seems set to be out till march...and then he will need a few more weeks to get match fit again. its safe to assume he wont be available this season
Ronaldo at 17 (or 18, can't quite remember) scored five goals in a single game. This is all Sven's fault, the kid wasn't ready for the hype (comparing him with pele, etc).To be honest, I don't see anything special in him, of course Wenger knows more about player potential than me (or you lot) so you should just trust him on this one, let him keep playing. Another one who could suffer with the hype, and become a flop is Pato.
OMG kolo toure has been subbed with what looks like a groin injury...lets cross our fingers
you have expected a lot of the lad but he came so expensive that you are left wondering wen is he going to come good it has to be sooner rather than later
one phrase in that seriosy cought my eye: "coaches merely instructed him to "run after the ball very, very fast when it gets near you." " - i dont think you could sum up the english training program any better!!! Ronaldinho never played a competitive game of football till he was 16, but in england, i started playing when i was 6. Players are told to make the most of there abilities when they are that age - and almost always, the abilites are that they are fast, which hinders there development in other areas (like crossing etc.). Walcott needs to get back to the basics, go out on loan to a club (maybe even a championship one!) to toughen him up, get some first team experiance, and start getting the basics right. oh, and maybe see a phycologist (no, im not saying he is mad!) - as he possibly has a problem with confidence.
oh, and it also seems that you are having a similer problem with walcott as we are havong with nugent. Both are young (ish), both were called up to england before they were ready, both are finding it hard to make the step up from the championship. Some pompey fans are starting to get on nugents back, but predominantly, we are supporting him. lets hope that both can get over there problems and fulfill the promise that they once showed!!!
Ditto LD on both the article and comments. As a foreigner in London, the press and pressure (come to look at their spellings, I think both words have the same root) really baffle me. They keep referring to Theo as "youngster" or "the 19 yr old" or "teenager" but all the rest of the words and standards they use to judge him are for established professionals. Sometimes our fans, influenced by some of this hype, are heaping pressure on the kid without knowing it. The "Theo Theo Theo" chant would intimidate me if I were a kid who's already a bit nervous just facing 60,000 people all excited and expectant. I don't know how many times we have to repeat 'cut him some slack' but I'll continue to say so, at least until he's like 22.
Lou the Gunneress
Today's performance tells you what happens when you give the kid some time!
Lou the Gunneress
Walcott will be fine - he just needs games! Sven fecked him up taking him to Germany!
I thought Walcott looked much, much better against Newcastle and for a kid who supposedly has no technique that flick over the top of a defender before he got flattened by Cacapa was pretty quality. Senderos and Diaby were also both much improved.
Ozi Gooner
I think Diaby's apparent laziness is just an extended mega-sulk. This is just speculating but I dont think its far-fetched - he is very close friends with the sulking Diarra, which means that Diaby was gettign a negative influence from him. It all started well in the summer with his friend joining us from the Chavs, and both were looking forward to playing together. Two months down the line Diarra realises he won't be a regular starter and he starts sulking. Meanwhile Diaby who had ambitions to play more and even get to move to the centre, starts to join in with the whining and although he doesnt go public with it, he starts fretting about limited playing time etc. So when he plays, he doesn't appear to have the hunger he had before, hence the poor displays since around November. This sulking will see Diaby respond to a kick in the arse or he will be sold in the summer. On Theo, yes, taking him to the World Cup was wrong, but he will bounce back and I think he might even do it later this season. The way he applauded the crowd yestrerday when being subbed showed he is aware of the pressure and is doing his best to respond. He is also getting better at holding people off which is good to see.
Excellent discussion, esp on Theo. He is clearly a victim of hype, none of which he was responsibe for. I have seen some good signs from the kid this season, esp when he played upfront and he clearly looks more comfortable there. From a short term perspective, I feel Wenger needs to start Theo upfront for a couple of games in order to improve his (at the moment) fragile confidence, and move him out wide later to aid his long term development. Curiosuly enough, watching Theo play wide only reinforces my belief in Wenger's strategy of playing him there. The kid needs to improve his technique.
Problem is that we are now reaching the stage of the season when there are very few opportunities to gamble with players. Barring a soft draw in the Cup or an unlikely drubbing of Milan in the first leg of the CL we will not have the luxury of 'trying out' players. Assuming RvP recovers before too long then along with Ade and Eduardo he may ensure we don't see too much of Walcott or Bendtner for the rest of the season other than as subs in games we have already won. If we do find ourselves playing them with any frequency then it will be because things haven't gone our way.
There goes the soft draw in the Cup, Amos ! Lets hope the 2nd part comes true ;).

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