Is Walcott Good Enough Now?

I must say I have long been in the camp with a big flag flying saying “Walcott’s not worth it. Let him go if he wants to. We can spend the money better elsewhere.” Like I said, it’s a big flag. But I must admit he is looking more convincing in front of goal recently, putting away a higher percentage of chances – at least I think he is, but I ignore most stats so as far as this season goes I don’t know for sure.

I still say that Walcott has been indulged a lot and played (before this season) when his form didn’t deserve it. Often he has only shone in games against lower league opposition, or when coming on against tired legs. That’s all very well for a squad player, but I expect more from someone who thinks he should be a first choice centre forward.

Theo is a nice lad, probably good company, no doubt polite to his mum. When he arrived at Arsenal I waited for a fairly quick proof of his credentials as a future superstar. After a year or two I was starting to think ‘Perhaps he’s not good enough for Arsenal’. He was no Henry, not even an Anelka. After another year or two I was thinking ‘He’s not good enough yet, and I don’t think he ever will be.’ I was starting to class him with Wiltord. For the last year or so I’ve been saying, ‘We may as well sell him.’ But my mind is changed just a bit. I still think he needs to be far more consistent in his general play and in front of goal, but his finishing has definitely improved of late, and he’s showing signs of becoming a better all round attacker.

Where the flame of doubt still flickers is in the fact that he has only played a cameo role so far this season. If he starts every game will his form slide? I’m still yet to be totally convinced that he can be consistently top class for a top four club.

Below is a graphic from The Times yesterday with his appearances, goals, accuracy and so on for the last three seasons. The key points are that he gets the ball on target a very healthy amount of the time – last season 58.6 per cent, compared to an average of just under 50 per cent for Premier League strikers. However, his figures for goals per shot on target are lower than the average in each of the last three seasons. He’s only actually scored 28 league goals for Arsenal in his career – fewer than Van Persie managed last season.

I’m sure recent games have seen an improvement in the deadliness of Theo’s shooting. The only question is whether that’s a temporary form blip, or whether he really has moved up in class. If he keeps up the current form until January, I don’t see that Arsenal will have any choice but to pay him the salary he demands. Twitter: @AngryOfN5

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9 thoughts on “Is Walcott Good Enough Now?

  1. Been saying for years he needs a chance up front. He is an instinctive scorer of goals and must be given the chance to prove he can do it. I fear he’ll go and be proven right!

  2. The thing with Theo is that he is still only 23. We’ve become so accustomed to players hitting their stride young (Wilshere, Fabregas, the OX and so on), that you tend to forget that Theo is just hitting the age where many players break through to first team football, and approach their potential.

    When we have also watched him struggle to develop for over 5 years, when other players have shown us much more at a younger age it tends to make it easy to write him off.

    In the end I am still not sure if he is worth (yet) the money he wants, but it seems an enormous shame to throw away the: time, effort and money already invested in him. The alternative could well be to sell him and watch him become a world beater for someone else in the next 2-3 years.

    Keeping him is a gamble, but so is selling him.

  3. In the US, they have a term for the likes of Walcott, Van Persie & Nasri: “contract year player”. That is what they call athletes that show up mainly when there is a possible new contract on the line. Otherwise, they promise a lot, display skills, but perform very little.

  4. I am an avowed fan of Theo; I see him (still only 23 yrs old) trembling on the brink of greatness. To lose him now would be a dreadful waste of the money, time and effort spent on him these past five years. And to allow him to leave on a free (or a paltry few million) will be yet another example of the total uselessness of the shower who currently run (ruin) our great Club. As someone once said, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Even so, his aren’t bad – in fact, this season (despite playing mostly as sub) he is top scorer and high on assists. But there are no statistix which measure the ability of a player to get you on the edge of your seat. Theo is a game-changer. He is the only player in the squad who, when he gets the ball, sets your heart racing: once we had a host of players like that. Yes, Ox maybe and maybe Jack now and then – but with Theo it’s every time, and the biggest disappointment is when he passes the ball instead of doing it all himself. Can he ever match the great Thierry? I believe he can and will. But not, alas it seems, with Arsenal. There will be no shortage of top Clubs who will want him – Barca, for a start (certainly if Pep was still manager). But for his sake I hope his destination will be LFC – because there Rodgers will know how best to use him and where he will become the main man just as Robin is at OT under SAF .

  5. He was decidedly average before 2010. Sporadic flickers of greatness – hatrick against Croatia, “that” run against Liverpool in UCL – but terribly inconsistent and frailer than grandma osteoporosis.

    No arguing that he’s come on leaps and bounds in last two seasons though, and compares relatively well to other PL players.
    Walcott – 22 goals and 18 assists (Total 40)
    Nasri – 21 and 13 (34)
    David Silva – 14 and 31 (45)
    Antonio Valencia – 9 and 18 (27)
    Nani – 18 and 26 (44)
    Garreth Bale – 23 and 17 (40)

    Now admittedly basing ones judgement of a player purely on those two statistics is extremely crude, but scoring goals and creating goal scoring opportunities are clearly the most important aspects in an attackers game.

    As you mentioned in the article, Walcott also has a very admirable success rate for shooting on target. From here http://www.eplindex.com/18484/wide-forwards-fashion-stats-comparison-moses-walcott-nani-sinclair.html, is a comparison between several other PL players:
    Walcott finished the season with a 59% shooting accuracy, with Sturridge (44%), Moses (43%), Sinclair (40%) and Nani (39%) all having a similar percentage of their shots on target.

    He fairs pretty well with chances created and pass completion too, and I don’t think he’s nearly as bad/lazy defensively as some make out, though that is harder to back up statistically.

    So far this season, despite being used sparingly to say the least, his performances and goal stats have been outstanding.

    Guess my point is, if we sell him, who will Arsenal going to sign to replace him, and how much would we have to spend? There’s a chance that Arsene will find the next Cazorla (adequate Cesc/Nasri swap). Equally we could get a Giroud/Arteta (good but not up to RvP’s quality or not totally suited to the roll they’re given).

    And that’s not even taking into account the time a player needs to bed into the squad or adapt to the Premier League. On the whole I can’t see a positive with letting Theo go on a free next summer, but it seems that once again we’re going to lose one of our better performers.
    Should be used to it right now but it still feels like a dick in the ass.

  6. Walcott had Giroud wide open for an assist to win the game at the end – but he didnt pass the ball, chosing instead to try and change feet which allowed the defense to recover.

    If one is cynical about this, Walcott is selfish and playing for a big money contract somewhere else. Assuming instead that his heart is in the right place, his head certainly was not, he was not looking around. And what makes it worse is Walcott HAD to have known Giroud was around, because Giroud was running in his line of sight when the play began.

    Look at it this way: Thierry Henry would have passed that ball to the onrushing Giroud – and he was more two-footed than Walcott will ever be.

    And so this half-baked player, who cant (or wont) keep his head up to make a pass, wants six figure salary – for selling shirts? Wow.

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