Why Arsenal fans need to get behind this boo-boy
Monday’s performance has clearly not helped Walcott’s case in justifying his wage demands, according to most of the viewing public, and I have been left in the minority still defending Walcott.
In the first half at The Cottage, Walcott put three delightful balls into the Fulham penalty box and it was only Gervinho’s poor shot, Ramsey’s saved shot and a trailing Fulham body part, that prevented the England winger from having a few assists to his name.
Had one of Walcott’s first half crosses been converted, his anonymity in the second half may have been forgiven. As it was, Arsenal had a man dismissed and Fulham made them pay for failing to capitalise on the first half domination Arsenal enjoyed in terms of shots.
Alan Hansen described Wenger’s decision to take Walcott off as one that allowed ‘Arsenal [to] get pegged back further and further’ by Fulham, with an absence of his, ‘pace in abundance’ that added ‘another dimension’ to Arsenal’s performance.
Arsenal have a two week break from the Premier League now and it may well be much needed, if not just for the rest that Robin Van Persie will get after what has been a relentless 2011. With his support, Walcott included, not in goal-scoring form, the two weeks will provide a time in which Arsenal forwards can find their feet once more, this time under the tutelage of an Arsenal great, Thierry Henry.
During January, Arsenal lose Gervinho to international duty for the African Cup of Nations and relying on Thierry Henry to replicate the form of his last seasons in the Premier League, is not what you want to place your top four hopes on. Arsenal fans simply need to get behind their boo-boy Theo Walcott this January.
Walcott can be relied on and a confidence in him from the fans will transpire into a confidence in his performance and that is when Walcott is at his best.
Over the past 18 months, Theo has a record that can rival fellow Southampton Academy product Gareth Bale. In 46 starts, Walcott has scored 15 goals and has laid on 16 assists, whilst the Welsh wing wizard has hit 18 goals and provided 10 assists in 8 more starts.
Head to head, Walcott has a goals to game ratio of one in every 3 starts, which is matched by Bale, and when it comes to assists, Walcott’s return of one every 2.88 starts betters Bale’s average of one every 5.4 starts.
Tottenham fans will argue that Bale’s overall game is better and his contribution far exceeds Walcott’s game of pace and directness. However, when on form, Walcott’s attacking contribution is exceptional and just as valued by Arsenal as Bale’s contribution in defence is, by a heavily and free-flowing attacking Tottenham team.
This January, with it becoming clear that Arsenal find it hard to churn out results if Van Persie isn’t scoring, a rarity nonetheless, it is more important than ever to get behind Walcott, especially in the absence of Gervinho and the presence, and thus pressure, of playing alongside Thierry Henry.
Arsenal fans have something that most other clubs would snap up in an instant – a 22-year old with 132 PL games under his belt already, an international regular for England and a player that Messi once labelled as ‘one of the most dangerous players’ he has faced.
Now is the time for them to put some confidence back into a player lacking in it, especially if they want to see his better days once more.
Written by Jordan Florit