Tag Archives: Theo Walcott

Former Gunners poppin' up to boost Arsenal's season…

The Bird Catcher eyes his quarry.

Ok, so I’ll be honest. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that any former Gunners are helping us directly. After all, aside from Man City, the gap between us and other rivals has stretched to a yawning wide chasm. Still, it’s usually if not always heart-warming to see our former players pop up to make a tidy contribution or two. None of them did us any favours in our own title-chase, but each of has offered some savory schadenfreude of various for us to enjoy. For each of them, there may even have been some of the good ol’ “North London is Red” motivation…

For the first of our former players, it was Joe Willock serving up an assist for Isak to equalise against Nottingham Forest in a match that Newcastle would go on to win and come to within one point of Tottenham in fourth, heaping pressure on a side that has shown time and again that they’ll do what they always do. It’s worth adding that Newcastle hold not one but two games in hand over Tottenham, meaning that they could quite conceivably overtake Spurs without any further bottle-jobs from them.

All Tottenham had to do was to defeat Southampton, who are absolutely bottom of the barrel. It was all going according to plan as they took a 1-3 lead into the 75th minute. Southampton looked absolutely toothless…until none other than Theo Walcott came to life. Having already offered the assist to Che Adams for their first goal, Walcott finished about as coolly and calmly as a man who enjoys a good goal against Tottenham can be, tapping home after a scramble in the box to make it 2-3. Not to be outdone by Walcott, none other than Ainsley Maitland-Niles stole the show by jumping in front of Pape Sarr as the Senegal man kicked out wildly to clear. Reports indicate that a few molecules of his boot may have come into contact with a loose thread from Maitland-Niles’s sleeve, and Simon Hooper pointed to the spot. When Ward-Prowse scored it, the capitulation was complete. Instead of restoring a four-point gap from Newcastle, they now cling precariously to a two-point gap. That just won’t last very long against a Newcastle side that’s starting to score more than a goal a month.

The only one-time Gunner who failed to complete his covert mission then was Alex Iwobi, but he also had the least opportunity to imfluence anything that matters. Chelsea are 28 points below us, after all. Iwobi apparently played well but couldn’t make any contributions as dramatic as his former mates. Ah, well.

Of course, at the other end of things, in one way of looking at things, one former Gunner suffered a some rather shabby treatment as Crystal Palace sacked Patrick Vieira, something we discussed on Friday. We have no choice then but to do him a solid by thrashing the Eagles on Sunday. Not for us. For him. It would be a purely selfless act free of any self-serving side-effects. Right. Let’s do it for Patrick.

BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Theo Walcott bagged a brace but could have, should have had more; Rob Holding opened his Arsenal account, and Olivier Giroud scored his 100th Arsenal goal as the Gunners mostly waltzed past their hosts in Belarus. The match started to get ragged late on, and BATE had numerous chances but were wasteful or were denied by fine saves from David Ospina. In any case, it was enough to see us win for the fifth in six matches, and we’re comfortably atop Group H. Not much else to say other than to invite you down to the poll to rate the lads!

Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster—Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Arsenal waltzed and/or sleep-walked past League One Doncaster Rovers, allowing Theo Walcott’s 25th minute goal to the be only excitement of the evening. Well, Rovers did make it more interesting than it really should have been, coming up with numerous interesting chances in the last ten minutes. The outcome was never seriously in doubt, however. Arsène had named an unusually ambitious XI for this match, but they looked disinterested on the whole. Still, it was enough to see us through to the next round of the League Cup (one round further in than our old friend Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for what that’s worth…).  Not much more to be said, to be honest, other than to invite you to get to the poll below the fold!

Time to sell Theo. Sorry. Just facin' facts…

With Alexandre Lacazette in, it’s time to ask who’s out, and the answer comes almost as fast as the player once ran: Theo Walcott. It may sound harsh and unsentimental, but the Theo Walcott Experiment has fizzled. Amid rumours of Everton offering £30m for the soon-to-be 29 year old, we should sell before whatever it is they’re smoking over there wears off. In this market, the one in which Kyle Walker was sold at £50m and Romelu Lukaku at £75m, £30m might seem like a pittance. Theo did, after all, score 10 Prem goals (19 total) despite limited minutes. However, it’s increasingly clear that we’ll ever get a better offer, so it’s time to move him on. Let’s make it a classic “it’s not you; it’s me”, at least to start.

What’s that writing on the wall say?

The arrival of Lacazette, of course, makes the front line that much more crowded, and Theo is will want more playing time than we can offer. In last season’s run-in, Theo had to settle for dwindling minutes as he fought through injuries. Either Theo accepts a much smaller role or he accepts a larger role at a smaller club. Enter Everton.

With that, we end the “it’s not you; it’s me” phase.

Theo has never seriously been pursued by any of the larger clubs. This suggests that they don’t want him and that we’re not likely to get an outrageous fee for him. Even in his most-productive periods, we might have gotten £25m for him. I’d submit humbly that he is not only past his most-productive period; he’s also not a good fit for Arsenal—not now, if ever. Let’s face it: he’s little more than a speed-merchant. He’s not a clinical finisher, he can’t dribble defenders, and he doesn’t contribute much other than running in behind defenses playing a high line. I’m not sure you’d need more than a few fingers to count how many opponents play a high line against us. In other words, his one asset—that speed—rarely if ever comes into play.

Even if it does come into play more often, we have to consider his fitness and age. He’ll turn 29 in March, hardly ancient, but certainly an issue. Few people get faster as they get older. He has fought back from his knee blow-out, but other niggles popped up, each one eating away at that one asset of his. Still, that one asset would make him useful to a club more accustomed to parking the bus and trying to hit on counters. Almost by definition, this would have to be a smaller club, and Everton fits the bill. They finished 14 points below us in our worst season in a generation, and they have £75m to spend. If they want to put 40% of that in our basket, who are we to turn up our noses?

Even club-legend Ian Wright agrees, if only ruefully. Wrighty tweeted that it’s “sad to see the amount of disrespect that Theo gets from the fans. I’ll always love him, but if it is a 30 million bid, got to take it 😢”.  Compared to some of those other transfer-fees, we might feel a need for greed. If we could get Bayern or PSG or Real Madrid to bid, well, then, we could turn an even tidier profit on him. That’s not happening, at least as far as any of the clickbait out there would suggest.

I genuinely like Theo. He is, by all accounts, a good person. However, if life has taught us anything, loyalty and sentiment don’t win trophies. I’m not being ruthless, am I? I’m aiming for practical. Maybe I should return to the “it’s not you; it’s me” routine if only to soften the tone as we wrap up? Theo deserves to play more than he does. Arsenal can’t offer him that. Theo deserves a club that will be thrilled to have him. Arsenal, again, can’t offer that. We can offer another few seasons of passive-aggressive, noncommittal support, or we can let him find someone who can truly appreciate him for who he is.

Theo? You’re welcome.

Let's make like Leicester and lay waste to Liverpool, shall we?

For those still suffering from the Bayern battering, it might come as some consolation to learn that Liverpool found a way to lose to Leicester, becoming in the process just the sixth such squad to do so. Enough with the alliteration. Such is the state (sorry) of our own squad that the tea-leaves suggest that Liverpool’s loss only primes the pump for us to get clobbered at the Kop. Again, apologies. On a more optimistic level, there are few squads more frail at the moment than Liverpool’s; it is therefore all the more essential that we turn the screws on their season and, at the risk of mixing our metaphors, drive home one more nail in the coffin of their campaign.

If memory serves, our own campaign opened with an unsettling 3-4 loss to these same Scousers. Our more-recent form offers little in the way of confidence. Then again, on current form, few have been worse than Liverpool. Despite having done tolerably well at Old Trafford (1-1), at home against Chelsea (1-1), and again at home against Tottenham (2-0), they’ve lost at home to Swansea (2-3), away to Hull (2-0) and again to Leicester (3-1). While this pattern suggests that they’ll at least hold us to a draw, there’s just enough in this one to suggest if not herald higher hopes.

Liverpool look to be reaching a point of collapse. Klopp’s tactics, much as they did last year, look like they are running his squad into the ground. When Jordan Henderson, he whose first touch forces him to develop stamina and grit if only to chase down that first touch, is unavailable, you should know that you’re running on fumes. To wit, despite having had 16 days of rest since defeating Tottenham, Liverpool still looked lacklustre and out of energy against Leicester. To have to play again on just four days’ rest is ominous.

This is not to say that we can just saunter in and seize all three. After all, we owe our own most-recent result to some helping hands, having barely beaten Hull thanks to a ball-to-hand goal and a late red-card penalty. Suffice it to say that we will have to just a bit sharper than that against Liverpool, and far, far sharper than we were against Bayern. The less said about that, the better.

As to whom we should look to, I have to admit that I like Walcott. While it’s likely that the cagey James Milner will be his opposite, Iwobi will likely struggle against Clyne, and Walcott’s pace (and fresh-ish legs) should unsettle the aged Milner. Indeed, Walcott is on pace for one of his best seasons with Arsenal despite missing significant time to injury. Between his energy and pace and that of Alexis through the middle, Simon Mignolet should have his hands full, figuratively if not literally.

Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (14.08.2016)
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (13.01.2016)
Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool (24.08.2015)

Liverpool are undefeated at home in 19 of their last 20 Prem matches.
Arsenal have scored at least two goals in 5 of their last 6 matches against Liverpool.
The two clubs first clashed on 28 October 1893, an 0-5 win to Liverpool.

Cazorla, Sanogo, Ramsey, and Elneny are all out. Özil and Koscielny face late fitness tests.

Čech; Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerín; Coquelin, Xhaka;  Iwobi, Özil, Walcott; Alexis.

Expect a rollicking, back-and-forth match with plenty of drama if not final product. At the end of it all, Arsenal should emerge victorious.

Liverpool 2-3 Arsenal.