Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Re: Walcott

Walcott's brace of tidy finishes in the Carling Cup cakewalk at Newcastle last week will have given his detractors (myself included) food for thought.

It's always been clear that Walcott is a confidence player. When he scored that hat-trick for England against Croatia in the autumn of 2008, it proved the catalyst for his best run of club form. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury quickly curtailed that run.

And, despite my habitual dismissals of Walcott, maybe he has been unlucky with frequent injuries. Maybe they have stunted his progress. Maybe he could yet become a footballer.

His hat-trick against Blackpool this season had him again threatening some form, and again, injury struck. You started to wonder at that point. Every time his game progressed, it seemed, he was ruled out for a period, meaning that upon his return, he would take weeks to build his fragile confidence again.

This time, though, Walcott hit the ground running. He was clinical against Newcastle and showed the importance of a genuine threat in behind the opposition defence. It is his pace and the potential penetration it offers that makes him important to this Arsenal team, despite his status as the least "natural" footballer in the squad.

It is his very difference that makes him an essential weapon.

Fabregas had, by his own admission, a stinker of a first half against West Ham on Saturday. But when Walcott came on, the Spaniard immediately released him with a great slide rule pass, and Theo struck a post. Fabregas is the best creative midfielder in the Premiership and it seems a shame that a lot of the time the team seems to lack runners that the captain can pick out. Chamakh's arrival has been beneficial in this regard, and Walcott offers another target for Fabregas's penetrative passing.

No comments: