Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughMuch ado about nothing - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Much ado about nothing - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Much ado about nothing

When Theo Walcott left St Mary’s for the dizzy heights of the Premier League and Arsenal, the only thing that outweighed his hefty transfer fee was the expectation surrounding him, something he has struggled to live up to. 

Since leaving Southampton in 2006 Walcott has made 138 appearances for Arsenal as well as 21 England caps, not to mention making the 2006 World Cup in Germany thanks to his inclusion from the then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But it’s not all as successful as it seems, with the 22-year-old’s quality failing to improve with age, leaving the winger in a stagnant state at the Emirates. 

By 2008 the London-born Walcott had become Arsenal’s youngest ever play in the Champions League (since beaten by Jack Wilshere), played in a Carling Cup Final, both scored and assisted in major games for the Gunners, and won Young Sports Personality of the Year. Those achievements brought significant praise from his manager, Arsene Wenger, who stated that Walcott was now able to “make his shift from a boy, to a man, and shall soon be a monster”. The only way is up?

Comparisons to Thierry Henry led to the Southampton Academy graduate receiving the hallowed number 14 shirt for the 2008-09 season, with signs of the ‘monster’ hatching, but not yet breathing fire. 

Injuries had marred much of his progression: dislocated shoulder, back injury, knee injury, hamstring, ankle injury. An impressive arsenal of injuries for someone of such tender age. But it is both narrow minded and naive to blame his slow progression on injuries alone. 

Despite making the 2006 World Cup as part of the England squad, Walcott was left out of Fabio Capello’s team that would travel to Germany for the 2010 World Cup, signalling how his career, despite an improvement in profile, has failed to sore in the laps of the Gods. 

Although he plays as a winger, criticism of his final delivery has been rife and verified, and despite possessing electric pace, leaving defenders in his wake has been a rare and surprising occurrence. The monster is in need of drastic incubation. 

The arrival of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the summer, also from Southampton, has only highlighted Walcott’s failures, with the latest St Mary’s hotshot already showing much more promise at the Emirates than Walcott has in five years. Fans and critics alike bemoan the number of foreign players at Arsenal, but when homegrown players turn out to be so ineffectual, is it any wonder Wenger turns elsewhere?

Murmurs have been coming from Walcott’s corner suggesting he may move on from the Gunners in a quest for trophies, a large dose of irony considering his failure to produce is a contributing factor to Arsenal’s baron seven years without a trophy to place in the dusty cabinet. 

Patience is running out with Walcott, and the faith that he will be England’s main man in years to come is waning, and that is only further assisted by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has already ousted Walcott from the starting eleven this season showing much more maturity, class and skill than his predecessor. 

Walcott arrived on the scene with a huge price tag and seemingly endless amount of potential, but could leave Arsenal in the summer for a far diminished price tag, wallowing in the shadow of what he always should have been, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alex O’Loughlin

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