By Triplec1988, proud member of TheGoonerForum
At the beginning of the 2007/2008 season, Theo Walcott was still very much a boy. He was talent and quick yet under sized and inconsistent. Over the course of the season however, we were able to watch young Theo blossom from from just a budding talent into a real player capible of fighting for a sport in the starting XI. Theo’s first Champion’s League goals against Slavia Prague at home filled the lad with confidence, yet an uninspiring run of form that followed frustrated fans, as well as the player himself. As the weeks dragged on and Theo’s form continued to lack any sign of improvement many began to question whether Walcott was the real deal. Yet when tragedy stuck during the squad’s away match at Birmingham, Theo Walcott answered the call and rose to the challenge as Walcott netted his first two Premiership goals which should have seen the Gunner go 8 points top of the league. This game marked a turning point in the young player’s season which saw him move from fringe player to super sub. Theo provided some dazzling performances as the season came to the close, most notably in the CL where he completed the most spectacular run of the season, dribbling past 5 Liverpool players from Box to Box before squaring the ball nicely for Adebayor to slot home. Theo managed to get on the score sheet two more times as well as he was given a run out at the end of the season, scoring goals against Derby and Sunderland. By the end of what surely was a disappointing campaign, Theo Walcott stood at a bright spot, and boy who had come of age and a man who is now ready to hold down a starting position in Arsenal’s starting XI.
Ahead of Theo this past season in the pecking order was both Alex Hleb and Emmanuel Eboue. While they both seemed to be favorites over Theo this past term, the young Englishman seems set to over take both as he proved a more direct and fruitful approach than either of these two.
Alex Hleb: With rumors about Hleb’s supposed transfer dying down in recent weeks, it appears that the Belorussian might be lacing up his boots for another season at Arsenal. And while Hleb’s array of fancy footwork and cleaver passes surely offer something to the squad, especially in terms of creativity, his obvious lack of any sort of an end product is something that Arsenal can frankly not continue with. While holding down the starting position the whole year and getting himself into numerous goal scoring opportunities, Hleb only managed to notch 2 goals the whole season. And while he did add with 6 assists, for a man so keen on passing this number too seems low. Hleb, who by his own self admission, is afraid of shooting and frankly for an offensive player who plays so many minutes for one of the top clubs in the world, this will not do.
Emmanuel Eboue: There is really not much to say about this. Eboue was poor, even awful at times. Why the boss stuck with him on the right for the whole season is a mystery to everyone. Eboue offered the team nothing. His constant diving and complaining, horrid passing, terrible vision, utter lacking of football intelligence and the clear absence of any sort of end product made his inclusion in the squad week after week seem almost criminal. Hitting no goals and providing and few assists, it is safe to say that Theo should surely have over come Eboue in the pecking order come this next season. The Eboue experiment, as valiant as it may have been, has fail and surely everyone can see that.
Arsenal have missed goals from the wings since Pires and Ljungberg left the club. The way they attacked the ball will forever be missed by all Gooners. And while no one will ever be able to truly replace the elegance and flare with which they played, surely we can replace their goal numbers. That being said, Hleb and Eboue are clearly not the solution to that problem. Both played enormous amounts of time this season and both provided next to nothing in terms of an end product. Theo scored twice as many league goals coming off the bench for the vast majority of the season the Eboue and Hleb did combined. Theo’s pace, his passing and his direct approach make him a far more dangerous and deadly player than either of the other two. Walcott’s consistency and brilliance in the final third of the season has surely won him praise. He proved that he can give us a goal scoring threat from the wings as well as pace and passing. While his defense is still not amazing, work over the summer will surely help it as he looks to gain more of a starting role next season. His recent adoption of the famous number 14 jersey is hopefully a sign that the young English international will play a much larger roll in the squad come next term.
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