InForm Walcott Faced Difficult Summer after Euro Snub but is now back
Left out of England’s Euro 2016 squad and at a crossroads in his Arsenal career, Theo Walcott’s future looked at best uncertain over the course of the summer.
At worst, it looked downright miserable for the 27-year-old but fast forward just a few months, and things look remarkably different for the former Southampton man.
How quickly things can change. Faced with a defining season at The Emirates, Walcott has had a flying start to the new campaign – his brace in the comfortable 2-0 home Champions League win over Basle making it five goals in seven games so far this season. Those are impressive numbers by any standard, and Walcott’s latest display saw him tear Arsenal’s Swiss opponents to pieces in one of the more one-sided European fixtures you’re likely to see. So, what’s behind the turnaround?
With more than 200 appearances for the Gunners to his name, it’s remarkable to think Walcott has now been at the capital club for over a decade. In that time, the winger has epitomised many of the frustrations Arsenal fans have had with their side.
WALCOTT AGAINST BASLE
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 1
Blocked shots: 1
Total passes: 35
Accurate passes: 29
Pass completion: 82.9 per cent
*Stats provided by Opta
Inconsistency, a lack of end product and the failure to secure a regular starting spot have all plagued Walcott over the course of the last 10 years, leaving some Arsenal fans to question whether he should have been moved on in the summer.
But Arsene Wenger, whose loyalty to his players remains undiminished, stuck by the man he signed as a teenager.
And how Walcott has repaid him, so far at least. With just nine goals in 42 appearances last season, Walcott didn’t deserve a spot in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but missing out on France looks to have been a blessing in disguise, with Walcott benefiting from a summer off to work on his fitness.
While Hodgson’s men laboured against Iceland before coming home in disgrace, the Arsenal man was posting videos to his Instagram account showing off the extra work he’d been doing with fitness guru Bradley Simmonds to be ready for the new season.
With Joel Campbell somewhat surprisingly shipped out on loan and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffering his own injury problems, Walcott sensed an opportunity to shine. And, to give credit where it’s due, he’s taken it with both hands.A goal on the opening weekend against Liverpool – albeit in a 4-3 defeat – was a decent start, but Walcott has only gone from strength to strength since then. Back-to-back strikes in league wins over Hull and Chelsea further boosted the spirits of a man whose confidence has undoubtedly been fragile in recent seasons.
It’s not just the goals, either.Against Basle, Walcott was at it again. His all-round play was impressive, he linked well with Alexis Sanchez from the right and looked a threat whenever he found himself on the ball.
Wenger says his player’s resurgence has been ’95 per cent down to him’ and despite the scorn often directed his way, Walcott’s goals against Basle made it 13 in the Champions League. Only Thierry Henry with 35 and Robin van Persie (18), have scored more for Arsenal. That’s not to be sniffed at.
So impressive was Walcott – his work rate also saw him lay on a series of chances for others in a game Arsenal should really have won by more – that it was a surprise Wenger decided to pull him off with 20 minutes to go.
Often a man who has had his fair share of criticism from his own supporters, Walcott left the stage to a standing ovation with most of the home crowd imploring Wenger to keep him on the field to allow him to try and seal his hat-trick.
That, in itself, shows just how far Walcott has come in a matter of weeks. Arsenal fans will be hoping it’s only the start of a campaign to remember.
culled from Dailymail.co.uk