It is ten years since Arsenal parted with £5 million to take Theo Walcott from Southampton. Since then, he has won only one major trophy having missed out on the 2014 FA Cup triumph through injury, and is still not a key member of the Gunners’ side. At the age of 26, it is time for Walcott to finally fulfil his potential, and stop being just a man for the future.
Despite having spent so long in the professional game, it still seems that nobody yet knows what the Englishman’s best position is. Walcott himself has claimed that his best position is as a striker but admits he needs to improve in the role, saying “It is something I will definitely learn and get better at but if I can create more space for other players to come into the game, that is important as well.”
At 26, Walcott should already have learnt that role if he truly believes it to be his best position. During his time at Arsenal he has had the chance to work with strikers such as Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, two of the deadliest frontmen in the Premier League era. He can’t be given any longer to learn the position.
This is the first time in a number of years that Arsenal have a real chance of winning the Premier League title and have a squad to mount a sustained challenge. With his undoubted talent, Walcott should be playing a crucial role for his side. Instead, Arsene Wenger has favoured Olivier Giroud as his main striker, with Walcott more of a backup.
With Mesut Ozil at the top of his game and Alexis Sanchez just returning to the side from injury, Walcott may struggle to hold down a place in the starting XI. Given that he was seen as the “next Thierry Henry” when he was first signed, this shouldn’t be the state of affairs his career currently lies in.
One of the mains reasons for him failing to fulfil his potential is his lack of ruthlessness. He just appears to be too nice, on and off the pitch, and is often overpowered by the more vocal characters in his side.
On Sunday against Chelsea, the game that marked the ten year anniversary of Walcott signing for Arsenal, his team were beaten by a goal from Diego Costa, a man who has shown this ruthlessness. Obviously the striker is not everyone’s cup of tea due to sometimes controversial actions, but aggression is a big part of his game, and he has used it to become one of the Premier League’s most feared strikers.
Walcott probably would be better off not going to the lengths that Costa has to find success, but he should certainly take a leaf out of the Spaniard’s book and add a bit of edge to his game.
In the long term, this is definitely something that would improve Walcott’s game, and perhaps see him finally unlock the potential that he has been threatening to reach for a number of years.