A FRESH START FOR THEO WALCOTT

After 12 years at the club, Theo Walcott has left Arsenal for the north with a transfer of around 20m agreed for him to join Everton. It was in early 2006 when the then teenager who turned 17 in March of that year joined  the Gunners from Southampton. At the time it was seen as a great coup, getting a young England star of the future, in the end he actually went to the World Cup that summer, before even playing a game of Premier League football, though he did not make an appearance at the tournament, more on this and his World Cup woes later.

A WASTED TALENT OR DEVELOPMENT MALFUNCTION

Walcott’s Arsenal career, in my opinion is one of underachievement, others will disagree and to be fair to him he could have been developed better by manager Arsene Wenger. He obviously had to bide his time initially, but soon became a regular starter, usually in a wide right role, his lightning pace being key, his assist in the Champions League quarter final in 2008 against Liverpool a brilliant example of how quick he was, a definite ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ situation. The issue with the young tyro though was his end product, especially his decision making and his crosses were not always of the standard you would expect from a player with his ability. I have seen him live a few times and as previously said he has pace to burn, but personally I wasn’t wholly impressed by his footballing ability, maybe I was just expecting too much after seeing his performances on the television.

WIN SOME, LOSE MORE

Whilst in his first full season at Arsenal he scored the opener in the 2007 League Cup final, however as was the case during the majority of his career in North London it was close but no cigar. In the end he only won two major trophies in his time at Arsenal, the FA Cup in 2015 and 2017. In the former he started and scored the opener in a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa, however the portents of him leaving were there for all to see as he was an unused substitute in 2017. Arsenal also won the famous trophy in 2014, however Walcott had previously ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in the 3rd Round tie against Tottenham and missed out on a medal. It was nearly a year later that he returned to playing.

WORLD CUP WOES

The main reason for his move is to get games. he has hardly featured for Arsenal this season, quite a fall from grace as he capatined them on occasion last season. He actually needs time on the pitch to stand any chance of playing for England at the World Cup, a tournament he seems to be cursed by. Yes he went in 2006, a shock selection by then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, but as mentioned above didn’t play a minute on the pitch. Another shock in 2010 too, as Fabio Capello decided not to take Walcott to South Africa despite him starting the two friendlies prior to their departure as well as scoring a hat-trick in qualifying away to Croatia. Then in 2014 he was a shoo in to the squad, playing some of the best football of his career before the aforementioned cruciate injury destroyed his dream of playing for his country in the biggest football tournament in the world.

A NEW CHAPTER 

So Walcott will be hoping that under Sam Allardyce at Everton he will get plenty of game time to get his career back on track and try to fulfil the promise that was expected of him all those years ago as a teenager. Also on his mind will be to help his new team push up the table as well as catch the eye of current manager of England, Gareth Southgate, and force his way back into his thoughts for selection to the World Cup in Russia this coming summer. A lively, positive performance and goal assist in front of the England manager in his first appearance for his new club was a decent enough start. The last of Walcott’s 47 England caps came in November 2016, so he has a lot of work to do, but the now 28 year old (29 in March) is not adverse to hard work. For whatever criticism people may have of him, he has always worked tirelessly and given of his all on the football pitch, whether you question the quality or not. One funny thing for me though is that it is quite ironic that the self-confessed Liverpool fan is now looking to resurrect his career at their city rivals Everton, football hey, it’s a funny old game at times.

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