Walcott Provides The Answers But Leaves A Few Questions
A bit of a shock this morning, Theo Walcott is what looks suspiciously like a top recently touted as the new third strip. Minus the confectioners logo, of course. Amongst the platitudes – what title race Theo, it’s over – was some searing honesty on his performances. Whilst he specifically refers to the Tottenham match, his observations about this season show a mature inner reflection,
This is the first season I’ve been injury-free, touch wood. So, hopefully, I can continue to play at a consistent level. I know people have been slightly frustrated. But I’m not going to have anyone tell me what to do. I’m the best judge of myself and if I’m not performing I know that and I’ll beat myself up about it!
But you can’t play well every game. No one can – apart from Messi! But you wouldn’t be human. There is always going to be pressure. The best reaction is playing well and putting it in the back of the net.
His return in terms of goals / assists is better in total than previous years and he has played but three games more to date. Consistency is still elusive and I understand his point about not playing well in every match. There are minimum standards though and against Spurs, it would have been easy for Arsène to replace him. That he did not underlines why Theo made the right decision to join Arsenal; the weight of expectation is there from the supporters and everyone else but he has a manager who possesses the patience to allow it come naturally.
This is key. I do not expect him to play well every game, just to be effective every game; there is a world of difference between the two. He does not have to score every time he walks onto the pitch, nobody should expect it although too many look for more goals than he is capable of contributing to the team from the wide position. Around 10 – 12 a season is that which you would expect from a wide player, with an equal or higher number of assists. He is there this campaign so why is there still a sense of unfulfilled promise.
Part of it is his age and the trajectory of his career. A big fee; Arsenal winning a bunfight for his signature; World Cup at 16; this boy must be special. Talk of wanting a central striking role tends to raise expectations and although that has quietened down recently, the seeds have been planted in minds and this is the benchmark.
It is however not just his own consistencies which troubles him. The team’s performance at the weekend is destroyed in two sentences,
With QPR, we probably underestimated them. But it’s always going to be a tough game. I felt that we didn’t really want it as much as QPR did, but that will change on Sunday.
What more can you say? It is incredible that they underestimated a team which is fighting for its Premier League survival yet that is the way of football. Every team in the game is culpable on that score. Arsène’s post-match comments left me thinking that there was a strong likelihood of stern words delivered in a measured tone that will have more impact than any excoration from a blog site ever will. His closing sentence in that passage suggest that the manager and others have bitten deep with their comments about performances.
Walcott is not taking anything for granted but by the same token is aware that strengthening the squad will happen in the summer. He is probably more receptive to the idea than many supporters despite most accepting that this has to happen. Personally I have always believed that this should be an organic process, something that happens every year. Arguably it is one of Arsène’s blind spots in recent years probably more to do with players in whom he had invested a great deal of personal time, not responding as favourably to his overtures to stay as he had believed,
Any new additions will boost the strength of the team and that is only going to help us with our next target – getting that monkey off our back about winning trophies. That will come in time. But we need to be patient. We are still learning the game. We’re a young team, but there’s a lot of experience too – especially in big games.
Talk of signing such as M’Vila raises uncomfortable questions for some; why sign someone when a perfectly good player is already at the club. A multitude of reasons can answer that but ultimately it comes to the manager’s judgement; is a new signing going to be better than that which he already has. If a player is signed, the answer is “yes”. If not – and there are no financial issues to cloud matters – then the answer is “no” but we should never presume that any player is irreplaceable. At some point, they will be. That though is a matter for the summer. Right now, the weekend approaches and thoughts turn to Manchester City’s visit.