Too Much Too Young
Being the subject of a relatively large transfer fee whilst still a teenager is a burden to bear for any player. In Arsenal’s recent history, starting with Peter Marinello through Hartson, Upson and Reyes, these players have promised much but ultimately failed to deliver.
If you add into the mix that before the end of his second decade, a bunfight had ensued over his signature and he was granted an ultimately wasted trip to the last World Cup, it is easy to see why expectations are high when Theo Walcott is mentioned. A sprinkling of magic in what was deemed to be England’s toughest World Cup qualifying fixture and that hat-trick in Croatia saw the expectations bloat. Injuries soon put paid to delivering the promise.
His manager has faith in him, despite the criticism of Walcott, who along with Denilson is being immolated at the altar of youthful promise failing at Arsenal. Wenger has defended Theo quite rightly, pointing out that his fitness is the concern:
What you cannot expect from Walcott at the moment is what he cannot give you. He needs some time to play and come back to full fitness. He has only played a few games this season. If he gets injury free now, he will have a good end of season. But at the moment he is not completely himself.
Frankly, I have found the denunciations of Walcott to be over the top, the only one-trick ponies in evidence are those who claim Walcott has little clue how to beat opponents other than in a straight race for the ball. Rather like some of the criticism of Arsene this week, the sport of sensationalism has shouted louder than the decent analysis, personal axes being ground harder than anything else.
It is a simple equation which is often overlooked. Players are not going to return following a lengthy spell on the sidelines and be wonderously in touch with the game. None of them are; they require time to attune to their colleagues and the speed of thought a match scenario needs. That cannot be replicated in training, no matter how hard anyone tries since you cannot second guess an opponents thoughts once adrenalin kicks in.
Should the manager bring players back if they are not match fit? It is a chicken and egg situation since they cannot be match fit if they do not play but if they play, they need time to adjust. Problematically, when results are adverse, scapegoats are sought because that is how society in general views all walks of life.
The match at the weekend offers the opportunity to put right the ills of the Arsenal world. If that happens, skies will certainly be a lot brighter for everyone, surely…