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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Theo's football brain is alive and well

As Walcott feinted to run in front of the defender and smartly turned behind him finding the space to meet van Persie's cut back to take his goals tally for the season to 10 in scoring against West Ham at the weekend I wonder whether one particular Geordie commentating on the game saw that as the intelligent play it was?

Just ten months ago Theo was accused of not having a football brain by Chris Waddle adding to a band wagon that equally lazy pundits like Alan Hansen were already happy to jump on. Even premature debates on football forums questioned whether he would ever make it at Arsenal. It's true that Walcott was having a tough time of it. His career has been a succession of incredible highs with explosive contributions for club and country and depressing lows where he has looked lost and one dimensional, but there was clearly something absurd about writing off a player at the time still short of his 21st birthday.

The summer's rest, as his failure to make the England world cup squad seemed to be further pronouncement of his consignment to the medias scrapheap, has proved to be just what he needed. Just as Samir Nasri can count himself fortunate to have been passed up for his nations football 'farce'stival so Theo should be happy to have missed England`s sorry adventure. In consequence he started this season much fitter and in great form scoring a hat trick against Blackpool before his national side rewarded him by getting him crocked in a pointless friendly that kept him out for a while.

Fortunately, that seems just to have been an interruption and he has continued to show not only greater physical strength but is timing his runs to much greater effect and seems to have learned how to turn his man when he isn't able to run past them. We've seen him make 40 or 50 yard dashes before but he is using his pace and acceleration to make far more damaging sprints of 10 or 15 yards. To the extent that, possibly for the first time, I felt a pang of disappointment at seeing him substituted against Chelsea. Not only has he scored 10 times in 22 games but he seems set to reach double figures in assists too with 6 for the season so far.

It's an improvement Arsene was moved to comment on at the weekend. 'His efficiency has improved, if you look at the number of games he has started and the number of goals he has scored,' he said.

'He is efficient in providing and scoring and his understanding of the game has certainly, vastly improved.'

Theo will be 22 in a couple of months. He still has much to learn and there'll be times when things don't go for him but as he develops physically so he'll continue to develop his footballing prowess. What is clear is that despite all the doubts we do seem to have a real player on our hands.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday January 20 2011

Time: 12:21PM

Your Comments

Even though Theo still seems to run down one-way alleys sometimes, there is just something about him that make him so important to us. He's established himself as a starter now, and that's all credit to him. A hand in 16 goals in 22 starts? That's pretty handy for someone with no footballing brain. Chris Waddle should learn how to speak properly before commenting on anyone elses brain ... thick *****.
Nice article Amos, he's looking good and deserves the praise.
Actually, it's 12 starts and 10 substitute appearances according to Even more impressive then!
Credit to Theo and credit to Wenger also who has shown patience and faith in him when others (Arsenal fans included) haven't
Always liked him as a person, I think footballers with a good sense of humour are rare....although we have a few at the moment. As a player I had to keep reminding myself, and more often other people, how young he is and how disrupted his career has been. He was defiantly singled out for sly trips and kicks (and the odd scything clash) when he was the 'new hot topic' but now that seems to be Wilshire. I heard some pundit try to credit Nasri with an assist for his dummy and thought that so harsh on Theo as his delivery has always been the focus of critisism.
No 10
Wenger always says when a player turns 23, you start to see their best form. And he's been proved right, as the likes of Song, Nasri and Fabregas are turning into world class players in their 23rd year, and to a lesser extent, Diaby made huge strides last season. Likewise, it was at that age that Flamini and Adebayor started to come to the fore. My point being, Walcott is now becoming a very good player, and will only get better, being just 22. The hype certainly had a detrimental effect on him, but if he can finally stay fit for more than 2 months at a time, I believe he really could fulfil the sky-high hopes we had when he joined as a 16 year old.
I like the fact he's started to work for the team in pressing and getting back to support the right-back. His pace is a great asset that way too as he can catch up with attackers and make their life difficult. He's certainly a key player for us because of the variation he provides to how we attack, as well as his effectiveness. In fact, I think one of our strategies against Barca should be to hit longer passes over their midfield and utilise Theo's pace and turn their defence. Cesc, Nasri and RvP can all hit those kind of accurate long passes.
Add Koscielny to that list as well Vin! And Bendtner...he set Theo (or RvP) off against Man U with a quality cross field ball from almost left back. On the 23 thing...I seem to remember Cristiano Ronaldo being rather hit and miss untill he was that sort of age, maybe 22.
No 10
The issue here is really the quality of the English press. I think the ratio is 1 daily national newspaper for every 8 people, or something like that. And a blog for each of the other 7. But seriously, when I lived in North London (Belsize Park to be exact- 16 Primrose Lane)- I found the most reliable and honest reportage of football in a free commie rag that was distributed in the area. What I liked about it (sorry, can't remember the name) was that the game reports read much like LD's do. Which is to say they were a great mix of insight about what happened on the pitch livened up with anecdotes about what happened in the stands. At least I think that's how it was- it was a long time ago.

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