Theo Walcott: Brainless to Bold

There was a time when expressing your faith in Theo Walcott’s potential as a Football player earned you puzzled looks. Yet today, Walcott helps make up Arsenal’s strongest side, and his services are sorely missed in his absence.[quote_right]”For years after his transfer, Theo struggled. Fans, media & bloggers across the Internet began to write him off…”[/quote_right]

Like Gareth Bale and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott is a product of Southampton’s youth system. His transfer to Arsenal in 2006 cost an initial £5million (with a potential to reach £12millon, which to my knowledge, never happened).

Thanks to Walcott being just 16, the move was a high-profile one, and he was quickly  labelled as England’s next top model. Or something like that.

For months and even years after his transfer though, Theo struggled. Fans, media and bloggers across the Internet began to write him off, with little opposition. So, what exactly happened?

[title]Brainless Beginnings[/title]

Theo Walcott had his fair share of critics growing up, and then some.

One example can be found from an interview with ex-England Winger Chris Waddle. The Interview took place in 2010, and the former England star had this to say:

“I don’t think he’s got a football brain. ‘Let’s be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time. I don’t know whether he studies the game, learns the game. He’s at a great club, where they play fantastic football and I’m surprised he’s never developed his game. People keep saying he’s young, but Wayne Rooney understood the game at 16.”

Harsh words, but many at the time agreed. Between the years of 2006 -2011, many pundits and fans alike branded Walcott as “brainless”, or even a “headless chicken”. Such language was common place amongst Theo Walcott discussions. Arsene Wenger himself had to call for patience on many occasions.

I’m not saying these remarks were completely off the mark. Theo didn’t exactly take to life at Arsenal like a Duck to water. His lack of experience, confidence and outside support combined to make him a nervous, rarely useful player. He seemed to be in a stage of development for years.

Yet, over the last couple of years, that has all changed – completely.

[title]Earning Key Player Status[/title]

Despite some unimpressive displays, Walcott still managed to unveil glimmers of quality every so often. His goal against Chelsea in the Carling Cup final was one such moment, accompanied by his electric assist against Liverpool in the Champions League.

Yet it took some time for these glimmers of hope to come together on a more consistent basis. The graph below will testify to that.

Don’t let this season’s tallies fool you, that graph shows improvements of leaps and bounds. Going from 9 Goals & 11 Assists to 22 Goals and 16 Assists in the space of one year is no easy feat.

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[title]Getting Bolder[/title]

Now, with the signing of Mesut Ozil, the rise of Ramsey and the regeneration of Giroud, Theo Walcott might just be able to make an improvement on his impressive 2012/13 statistics, as shown above.[quote_left]”[Theo Walcott’s] transformation from brainless to bold couldn’t have come at a better time.”[/quote_left]

He still has a lot to learn of course, but at the age of 24, he may well have learnt enough to make that step up to becoming a consistent, top quality offensive threat.

So far this season, Theo has 13 appearances to his name, with just 2 Goals and 2 Assists. But with his impending return from injury happening this coming Saturday, the Englishman will be looking to replicate what he did last season, and perhaps even surpass it.

One thing is for sure, Theo Walcott is brighter and more threatening than we’ve ever seen him before, and with the way Arsenal have started this campaign, his transformation from brainless to bold couldn’t have come at a better time.

Stats: ESPN
Images: Ronnie McDonald

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