Last night’s our match against Reading in the Capital One Cup was not expected by even the most frantic football fans. The match tilted throughout. First half was Reading’s. Arsenal just about managed to take it to the extra time with a 95th minute scrapper. Then it was Arsenal, then Reading and then finally Arsenal prevailed. This performance by the Gunners was very much that I have been witnessing since last few seasons. You never know how well they might play. While first 45 minutes, Arsenal struggled to play football, second half and afterwards, some stern telling from Wenger did the trick.
So, this is not a match report. I have already read around 10-15 of them and do not think that I can put them in better words than all these writers. This is about a guy, who has been hailed widely since he joined us. With time, he is getting better and better and very unfortunately, his future at the Emirates is not certain. Some tabloids have even started reporting that Arsenal is looking at Crystal Palace’s Zaha as his replacement. The guy, as you rightly guessed, is none other than Theo Walcott.
Without a doubt, Arsenal (or Arsene) made Theo a footballer. He joined us when he was 16 and was even selected in England’s 2006 World Cup squad. A raw talent, they said. Since then, this man is playing with burden of expectation on his shoulders which have very visibly affected his performance throughout. I too have written and criticized him a lot in my various articles on other blogs. Point is, he never performed consistently. Few glimpses here and there. You can’t blame Arsenal fans really. We are trophy deprived club since last 7 years and when any potential star comes along, we pin our hope on him.
Although Theo was our second top scorer last year in league, he never looked too much threat. His best performances came at Newcastle (2-1 at the Emirates) and Tottenham (5-2 at the Emirates). He scored consistently but I repeat, he never looked threatening.
But yesterday, he looked like a man on mission. If I say that he got Arsenal back in the match single handedly, this is not an exaggeration. Crucial first half goal and the last gasp equalizer in the added minute of injury time (still not sure who has been credited with that goal- Walcott or Jenkinson) and then the winner in last minute of extra time- his performance was a treat to watch. Add to it two assist he created for both the goals scored from corners and you have a Man of the Match winner.
Enough speculation is going around regarding his contract and his performance last night will raise his stock swiftly. Wenger has said he will not start a game until he signs a new contract. The reason behind the delay in signing is, Walcott say, not because of monetary reasons but footballing reasons. Sources say that he want a central striker role instead of a winger but Wenger is not too sure about it. After last night, I am sure Wenger will rethink what he really need to do with this guy. He was a livewire in front of the goal against Reading- showing quick feet, intelligence and even strength to hold players. For the doubters of his finishing, the first goal will shut their mouth. Tie him down, Wenger. One more high profile departure from the club next year and things, needless to say, will become calamitous. Even a non-football fan can answer who is better in front of goal- this 23 year old Englishman or ever so frustrating Ivorian? You need not reply mate.
We are playing Manchester United on Saturday and this will be a massive match. Memroies of 2-8 in 2012 refuses to fade away. Obviously, there won’t be something of this kind happening again but to close the gap on Chelsea and to prove a point that we still are trophy contenders, we need to get something out of this match. Sure enough, after almost 130 minutes on the pitch last night, I do not expect Walcott to start but I am quite excited about seeing him and Giroud upfront at around 70 minutes. They formed a lethal pair against the Royals.