Tag Archives: Theo Walcott

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Walcott’s 10 years and your expectations

I have this great idea for a new movie. Ok, the main character Is named Betty, Betty Korger, and she discovers that she’s able to get into other people’s dreams. She does this every night, wearing a mask of a burn victim and a fedora so as not to be discovered for who she really is. She plays around in various people’s dreams learning that she can actually cause them physical harm.

One night while cruising around in the old neighbor’s dreams, she discovers a red and green sweater, and a metal hand with finger-knives. Of course both of these things fit her perfectly. She then starts getting into the dreams of her classmates and one of them uncovers her secret. He’s a typical emo millennial kid who likes to dress up like Darth Vader for various cosplay events. And he threatens to call the police on her.

Anyway, she does battle with him and terrifies him every night but the police don’t believe that she’s doing anything to him because they keep her on watch. At one point the kid gets Johnny Depp to do a cameo appearance and Heather Langenkamp as well but Betty Korger kills both of them. Eventually she deeply wounds the emo kid (played by Adam Driver? why not) and learns that there was a guy who came before her named Freddy Kruger. So the movie ends with her flying in a dream space ship to this monastery rocky outcropping by the sea where Kruger lives and all you get is this final shot of Kruger’s face looking concerned. Also, there’s Princess Leia and Chewbacca in there somewhere.

And a lightsaber with flames coming out the side.

Basically, I just want to retell the entire Nightmare on Elm Street story, with a slight twist (female lead), using more modern CGI and effects (at least one lens flare, right at the beginning, a *wink* to all the people who hated my use of lens flare in my previous films), and having a bunch of cameos with the original actors. I’m hoping that Disney buys my scripts!

I wonder if I can get Greg Proops to do the voiceover for my big podracing scene? “Now THIS is podracing!”

Anyway, did you notice that Theo Walcott’s been with Arsenal for 10 years? It’s in all the papers.

Signed from Southampton for just £9m, Walcott stoked excitement among the Arsenal fans. The way he opened his body to score to his right from the left side reminded many of Thierry Henry. He was also supposed to be Arsenal’s fastest ever player.

He scored his first ever Arsenal goal in the League Cup final against… Chelsea. Arsenal lost that game after bald referee, and World Cup disaster, Howard Webb failed to control tempers and the match devolved into a scrum. Despite the loss, Walcott has enjoyed playing against Chelsea over the years and scored 5 times against Chelsea in 15 appearances. He’s also scored 5 times against Tottenham in 17 appearances. The team he’s scored the most against is Newcastle with 6 goals in 15 appearances.

Despite an injury wracked career (he’s had operations on both shoulders and his knees) Walcott went on to score 81 goals for Arsenal and get 66 assists. He’s also won 3 penalties scored for Arsenal (which transfermarkt counts as assists). If you told me in 1999 that Arsenal would pay £9m for a player who would average 8 goals and 7 assists per year for 10 years I would have told you “impossible! No one will stay at a single club for 10 years any more, much less have that kind of consistency.”

It’s a bit strange too, because just this morning I was singing the Perry Groves song, except instead of everyone being Perry Groves I was naming my favorite starting XI and when I got to the right wing I had to stop and ask: who is my favored starting right wing player?

A lot of folks want to drop Walcott as soon as Alexis returns and keep Campbell on the right, but Walcott isn’t injured and already has 5 goals and 5 assists for Arsenal this season, including an assist for Ox’s Charity Shield winning goal against Mourinho’s Chelsea. Campbell has 3 goals and 3 assists but has played fewer minutes.

Walcott is currently producing a goal or assist every 150 minutes and Campbell one every 197 minutes. Campbell does tackle more (2.6 times per game v. Walcott’s 1 — and yes, I only compared when they both play wide) but Walcott is the better dribbler, completing 2.5 per90 compared to Joel’s 0.6 per90 (again both isolated for wing play and not as a center forward).

Honestly I don’t see Walcott getting “dropped” for Campbell. He might play some games on the right and he might play some games up top, where he scares center backs with his foot speed. Campbell also might start some games on the right when Arsenal need a more defensive presence. It will all depend on the way Wenger wants to approach a game.

I think with Walcott it was the expectations which were the problem over his career. He was supposed to be the next Thierry Henry and he hasn’t become that and probably won’t score more than 15 goals for Arsenal in a single season for the rest of his career.

From his first World Cup call up, which probably shouldn’t have happened, to his being dropped for the World Cup which also probably shouldn’t have happened Walcott has always been “unlucky Theo”. But blessed with bags of speed and a solid work ethic, Walcott has proved to be one of Arsenal’s most versatile front men. Serving up assists for van Persie and Giroud from the wide right, and most recently playing through the middle and on the left for Arsenal.

Walcott remains a divisive figure for some because he never reached their expectations. But after looking at his career, which has already spanned 10 years for the Gunners, I’ve had to come to terms with what Walcott is and isn’t. I doubt he’ll ever be a 20 goal a season striker for Arsenal, but if he can give us a consistent 10 goals and 10 assists over the next few years, or even just his career average of 8 and 7, it would have to go down as one of Arsene’s best signings wouldn’t it? 100 goals and 80 assists over 12 years? 180 goals? That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Not THE best signing, but a great squad player who gave everything for the team and stayed loyal to the club for over 10 years. Who does that anymore these days?

Qq

walcott-mask

Theo Walcott is the striker you wanted and you didn’t even know you wanted him

This summer Arsenal supporters clamored for Arsene Wenger to spend some money and bring in a ‘big name’ striker. Someone like Benzema who could come in and take Olivier Giroud’s starting spot.

Wenger looked at all his options, saw the market for what it was, exemplified by the spending of Chelsea: £25m for Pedro, one of the most overrated forwards to come into the League, watched as Chelsea loaned Juan Cuadrado and Mo Salah out for huge losses, and took a beating on Andre Shurrlle last season, he also saw how they spent £12m on Remy, and then had to take on Falcao and his odious contract, and despite all that spending they still don’t have a world class striker. Wenger saw that market and handed Theo Walcott a new £140k a week¹ contract and said “you want to be a forward? Prove it.”

Wenger planted the seeds for this transformation last season when he gave Theo the starting forward spot against West Brom (4-1 win, Walcott hattrick) and in the FA Cup final against Villa (first goal, left footed volley). It was a shrewd move on Wenger’s part because Theo Walcott’s best attribute is his movement and that’s something that takes time for teammates to learn. Özil, Alexis, and Cazorla all have to learn how to anticipate one of Walcott’s back door runs in tight spaces or how to get him the ball in the more open counter attacking spaces. It’s not all just poke and hope or lump and let Walcott run under it — that’s how clubs like Sunderland play — you have to get Walcott the ball in a great scoring position.

As I have mentioned here and on Arseblog News, Arsenal have created more big chances than any other team: twenty six big chances so far. Arsenal have also created forty-eight shots in prime, which is tied with Man City for most dangerous attacking output in that category. Walcott has been the main beneficiary of those big chances, he’s seen 9 of them already in the Premier League. That number is kind of amazing because Walcott didn’t get his first big chance until the Newcastle match. And again, not coincidentally, that was the first competitive match he started as a center forward for Arsenal this season².

What Walcott offers Arsenal isn’t just movement but the fact that his movement creates space for others. He has a few signature runs that he likes to make and not only do they get him into a dangerous area but those runs drag defenders out of shape and create space around the edge of the 18 yard box. This in turn benefits players like Alexis and Ozil and it’s no small coincidence that Alexis and Walcott have teamed up for several goals and assists for each other. Both player’s movement creates space for the other.

All players have benefits and drawbacks. Walcott is not going to be a great header of the ball, he’s not going to be a traditional hold-up man, and he’s not going to be the kind of player who breaks defenses with a dribble in tight spaces³. But he doesn’t have to do all of that because Wenger has very sneakily built a team which can shoulder those burdens for him. Alexis, Ox, and Cazorla are Arsenal’s top three dribblers. Alexis and Ox do their dribble work in attack while Cazorla mostly dribbles out of trouble in the midfield.

Arsenal also seems geared toward getting Alexis the ball in the air. He leads the team in headed shots with 7 and though he only has the one headed goal (two in all competitions, he scored against Leicester (Ozil lob) he also scored one against Olympiacos (Walcott lob)), he probably would have three already if the dubious goals panel hadn’t awarded an own goal for Crystal Palace when I felt Alexis got that header (from Bellerin lob) on target.

So, Wenger has great dribblers around Walcott, he’s got players with great vision feeding Walcott the ball, he’s got Walcott pulling defenders apart with his movement and creating space for the Arsenal attack, and he’s got a surprising player in Alexis to win balls in the air. It looks a lot like Arsenal got the upgrade on Giroud that everyone wanted this summer.

Breakdown of Walcott’s goals and assists this season

Walcott’s first goal this season: Stoke City, tackled away by Coquelin, pass by Özil over the top, Walcott control, right foot shot into the left corner.

Walcott second goal: Dinamo Zagreb, defensive header forward by Coquelin, pass by Alexis over the top, Walcott sprint, opens his body shoots right footed into the lower right corner.

Walcott third: Leicester, Alexis pass forward to Cazorla, Cazorla through ball to Walcott, Walcott left foot finish bottom right corner.

Walcott fourth: Olympiacos, Alexis through ball, Walcott tight angle right foot, keeper hand, ball over keeper.

Walcott first assist: Olympiacos, Ramsey wins ball on the edge of the box, Cazorla pass to Walcott, Walcott chip-cross, Alexis header.

Walcott second assist: Cazorla wins the ball deep, passes to Ozil, Ozil to Walcott, Walcott back to Ozil on the penalty spot.

Walcott third assist: Ramsey wins throw in, dribbles past Young, passes to Walcott, Walcott spins and plays the ball with his left foot to Alexis wide, Alexis dribbles a man, scores with long shot.

Charity shield assist for Walcott: play from the back, Mertesacker to Cazorla, Cazorla wins the ball in a tackle, Koscielny plays it back to him, Cazorla dinks it over to … who passes to Walcott, Walcott slides it to Ox, Ox dribbles and scores left footed.

Qq

¹Grain, salt: that figure is reported in the Mail. We don’t know what amount of money he’s actually on but the point is that Walcott got a new contract, a pay raise, and the opportunity to prove himself in the center forward role.
²He started as a CF in the Charity Shield, but that is a friendly and doesn’t count. Also, he didn’t have any big chances in that game so it doesn’t fit my narrative…
³Because I know someone will quote stats or post a video, he has beaten defenders off the dribble in the past, but we all know that’s not his forte. He’s not like an Alexis or Ox. Just to prove my point: Walcott has had four successful (of 9 attempted) take-ons this season. Coquelin has had 12 (of 12). Walcott’s not a dribbler.

Man at the match; Chary: Theo buttresses scoring junks

A swiftly taken, and started, first half hatrick from Theo Walcott ensured the most relaxed atmosphere to an end of season game for an age as the Arsenal set themselves up nicely for the FA Cup final with a comfortable 4-1 win against Pullis’ West Brom.

The expected rotation was there, Gabriel for Kozzer and Walcott for Giroud, in addition to the replacement of Gibbs for Monreal and Jack for Ramsey from the previous game.

However neither Santi nor Alexis got the breather I felt they needed, but then that may have been too much change for a game in which victory was desirable as it would set the mood for the FA Cup preparations.

Only the most doom laden Gooner would have feared losing third spot today as a seven goal swing was required for that to happen and fearing a repeat of the previous weekends performance from the today’s opposition against Chelsea some would argue pre match concerns like this were not entirely invalid.

Surely any Pullis side would be defensively tight, unadventurous and looking to frustrate ?

Panoramic from North Bank

Panoramic from North Bank

Having taken my seat in the north bank lower within a few minutes of the start I could see this was not the case, even though Arsenal were attacking the Clock End, as usual, in the first half and my sub par vision would make details hard to pick out.

West Brom looked to push forward early on and hence left gaps behind them, which after a short time was the wrong tactic.

A threaded ball from Santi found Theo wide right, who then unleashed an unstoppable rising drive that gave the Baggies keeper no chance.

Instant relief and the crowd could relax as the mini goal drought ended less than five minutes into the game.

Distant view after Theo scores

Distant view after Theo scores

And so started the Wembley songs which then continued for the rest of the afternoon.

In addition to the relatively open nature of the game another feature was Jack’s surging runs through the middle of the park, which drew much appreciation from the crowd, one of these led to some interchange with Özil that fired a cross into the West Brom box which Theo efficiently dispatched for his second.

Barely had we stopped cheering Theo’s brace then another attack led to some ping pong n the away penalty area which the Baggie’s defenders failed to clear and a lose ball was rifled in by Jack for the third.

The English core had now scored three goals and the ludicrous bad luck that dogged Arsenal’s goal attempts in the last three games was well and truly banished.

A Pullis side surrendering so tamely didn’t seem right and looking at the man himself he watched impassively, arms folded, without even attempting to look at all concerned.

The only semblance of order was a touch of the Stoke City’s that whenever there was a West Brom goal kick, as the ball looped down, the West Brom player was always giving out a sneaky shove to the Arsenal player attempting the clearing header.

The Baggies still came forward, even at three down, however Berahino’s early threat seemed to subside and all their approach play seemed to fizzle out impotently.

At three nil up a surge of exiting Gooners making for front of the queue for half time food missed Theo’s hat trick goal as Santi completed a move involving Özil, Alexis and Jack by firing across the goal for Theo to tap in a poachers goal.

Sign him up Arsène!
Sign da ting !

Half time came and as the score in the Stoke-Scousers game was flashed up much delirium ensued, clearly Stevie Me’s swansong would not end well as Liverpool were being battered 5-nil by Pullis’ former charges.

After such a breathless, enthralling first half, the second would struggle not to be an anti climax, and a weird starting second half it was.

First off Hector went lunging into the West Brom number 11 and received an unnecessary yellow card and then indecision in the the Arsenal defence led to a corner.

Then, after having looked so secure for nearly all his time in goal, Ospina seemed to flap at the corner and let a header in.

The excessive/ironic celebration of the Baggies fans at this point was the highlight of their day and only a mild irritant to the home support.

With the FA Cup in mind some of Arsène’s prospective starting 11 were taken off, Coquelin and then Theo to take the applause for his masterful hatrick; only the most churlish of us would take his little wave to the west stand as he walked off as a “wave goodbye”.

To my eyes if Villa allow us space to play then Theo should start; if not his replacement today, Olly, should start. Luckily that difficult decision is not mine to make.

Finally Jack was replaced by the Ox and the reception he got proved that his mid season indiscretions had been forgiven and his on field efforts very much appreciated.

The introduction of Ramsay and the Ox didn’t stop the fluidity of the mid field and chances were still being created.

Özil corner

Özil corner

Alexis, as ever, never stopped running and when one of his jinks into the opposition penalty area came to nothing, the crowd showed their appreciation and encouragement with his “Alexis baby” song – I don’t think he knows it his song yet as he just kept his head down while walking back to his position after play restarted.

Cheer up Alexis, every Gooner loves you !

A fifth goal would have been great and a Ramsay shot cannoned off the post as the game drew to a close.

Close from Rambo

Close from Rambo

The end of season feeling was confirmed when the fourth official didn’t bother signalling how much added time there would but when the final whistle blew it was with satisfaction the crowd showed their thanks for the result of the game.

Five points clear of fourth placed ManUre with no annoying Champions League pre qualifier to mess up pre season for the lads, I’d a taken that after our slow League start.

The lap of appreciation started with the handful of West Brom fans remaining holding up a plea on behalf of Sweden for Olsson, which seemed odd as he looked rather clumsy and unathletic on today’s showing, the Swedes must be desperate.

Olsson request

Olsson request

So we wait for the season climax next Saturday for our shot at another trophy; sadly for me I won’t be going as tickets are extremely hard to come by so I’ll thank you the readers for staying with me this season and I’ll see you in the 15/16 season.

Players Lap

Players Lap

UTA !

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)