To remain or not to remain. That is the question. Theo Walcott has been at Arsenal a long time now and whilst still only being 22, he is certainly one of the Gunners more experienced heads in their quest for fourth place this campaign. A frustrating talent, Walcott's inconsistencies have continued to deceive his adorning Arsenal public this term. Time is certainly flying by. Has Walcott's clock ticked too far?
The well-spoken winger is currently enjoying a campaign free from injury and has been a constant fixture on the right flank for the Gunners. Arsène Wenger clearly trusts the player whom he groomed for many years as the natural successor to Thierry Henry. But with Henry back at the club this January, does this indeed represent the lack of impact made by the prodigy in the time elapsed. In short, yes.
Wenger recently spoke about team mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and modern football being in a state of 'immediacy' whereby great things are expected of young talents in a short space of time. Walcott has had years.
Whilst remaining to be one of the Premier League's fastest players, Walcott continues to run with his head down, careering into the full back as opposed to getting beyond them and firing a cross in to the box. Whilst it must be accepted that Arsenal's game is to play neat passes into feet around the box, many more chances could be created simply if Walcott got his head up and looked.
Chris Waddle criticised the England international back in 2010 stating
"I've never seen him develop. He just doesn't understand the game for me -where to be running, when to run inside a full-back".
What seems to be more frustrating for Gunners fans is that Theo seems to go on a good run of form, for example at Carrow Road where he linked up with Robin van Persie fantastically, and then goes missing in two or three games prior to a productive game. Following snippets of brilliance over the years and an ability to strike more often against Chelsea, Walcott has proved amongst the most frustrating of talents.
Many Walcott fans believed it was lift off in his career following his hat-trick for England in Zagreb but it is difficult to measure how far he has come in the time since.
A good finisher; Walcott far too often finds himself isolated on the touchline, only to be substituted for the likes of Andrey Arshavin three quarters of a way through a game. Theo himself would admit that he'd like to improve on just six Premier League strikes this season. He remains to be a likeable member of the Arsenal squad with chants of 'Theo, Theo' often radiating from the terraces, but this seems to be more in hope rather than expectation. It is all in too short supply from a player whose impact could be devastating if he mastered his final ball productivity.
It seems apparent that the likes of Gareth Bale and Ashley Young have improved tenfold in the same period of time as Walcott has had, but with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now in the first-team reckoning, Walcott's future first-team place may not be guaranteed, although England continue to select him for the senior squad.
Walcott has publicly voiced his desire to play up front for Arsenal in the past, but with Robin van Persie's form and indeed Walcott's inconsistencies it is likely that such a wish will again fall upon deaf ears. A far greater contribution is needed in what is proving to be a gruelling roller coaster ride of a campaign for Arsenal, and Walcott's tendencies to coast through games with little contribution is proving far too tedious.
It may take more than a final whistle clap to the fans to truly appease the Gunners faithful on Walcott whom many Arsenal fans still think has the ability to become part of the clubs all-time folklore.
But with needs must this campaign, patience is certainly at a minimum. If Arsenal fans accept the role of timekeeper, they will find that Walcott's best form is yet to arrive. Time to let go? Only time will tell.
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