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ArseWars: Episode III - C3Theo's Last Stand

The year is 2006. Arsène has decided he needs to invest in youth and turns his sights to a promising domestic droid, C3Theo. A deal is struck with Southampton, a developing club located on the outer rim. The reported fee (some sources vary) is five million republican credits.

C3Theo shows much promise and the galaxy  has heard much about his talents and speed. He’s demonstrated he has an eye for goal and it would seem he is destined for great things. Sven of England decides that a young C3Theo should attend the next world cup and the galaxy is in uproar as our young droid is yet to make a senior appearance.

Will his career be a success? Only time will tell...

I am afraid, time did tell. It would seem that time has not been a friend of Theo Walcott’s and has been a significant enemy of his. He is either early, late, but rarely on time.

Theo’s career started with a bit of bang. Picked up by an Arsenal team who were still at Highbury and was full of excellent players, albeit some were edging past their peak. 2006 was a big year for the club. We brought in a lot of players, shipped out some big ones and who can forget how oh so close we came to winning that elusive Champions League trophy? I still remember that night frame for frame. Like remembering the first time you and your mates were over the park and found a dirty maga... I digress.

Theo joined Arsenal in a year that saw Hleb, Mannone, Diaby and Adebayor all brought into the team. At the time Theo was a reasonably pricey acquisition for a 16 year old. Remember, this was pre-MIFGBSCAFLAEWADW (money in football gone bat shit crazy as fuck like an ex with a death wish). English youngsters weren’t being sold left, right and centre for ludicrous amounts of cash (Henderson/Sterling/Stones). We invested in his potential and some eyebrows were raised at the money we spent.

The point I’m trying to make is that Theo came into the squad at a pivotal and defining moment in the club’s history. We lost a lot that year - most notably Highbury and Patrick - but I’m still feeling the sting of parting ways with Quincy Owusu-Abeyie! I’m welling up. I’m ok. I’m ok!

Theo, for me, seems to embody the transition we made from old Arsenal, to the new. Think about it. Likened enough to arguably the best player we’ve ever had (I’m inserting arguably because there are some damn strong opinions on this topic) and put before us as the future of a club on the precipice of a new beginning – the journey into the grove. For Theo and Arsenal, the future was full of promise and doubt. Unfortunately, from this point onwards, both parties potential didn’t quite live up to what we hoped.

Comparisons were made between him and Henry and it was often said TH14 was the perfect mentor to teach a raw talent how to control his pace and developing finishing prowess. It was hard not to get excited about what Theo might turn into. Sven spotted his potential and took him, much to the shock and anger of the country, to the world cup with the England team. A lot like the rest of Theo’s career, it never really got going. Failing to get on the pitch, Theo was left on the side-lines – fittingly watching on while others walked in the limelight.

All of this happened alongside an Arsenal team who failed to outdo an excellent Barcelona team in the final of the Champions League, and who would not go on to win a trophy for another nine years. There seems to be a parallel developing here. Arsenal’s years in limbo land go hand in hand with Theo Walcott, much like the young and developing squad, stuttering and stammering his lines when it was most important. I am not suggesting Theo was responsible for our trophy drought. To make such a statement would be wrong and, frankly, fucking stupid ( I didn’t need to swear there, but I haven’t sworn much in this blog so far and swearing is fucking brilliant. Cock!). Despite this, there’s an unfortunate lineage that develops with the manager, team and Theo’s success over the recent years. Essentially, it’s bloody damn hard to argue it’s been a roaring success.

Let’s take a closer look at Theo’s basic figures – appearances and goals in all competitions since joining the club (credit to Arsenal.com for the figures). I’m not looking at any other figures (assists etc.) because I simply want to look at Theo’s ever fluctuating level of performance in front of goal. There’s a great lack of consistency.

Let’s look at his first season – 32 appearances and 1 goal in the League Cup. Nothing short of expected there. He’s still a young man who’s not being utilised heavily in the league as there are other players above him in the pecking order. Simple. A season on and a marked improvement: 39 appearances and 7 goals. A notable dip the next two years and then we start to see the goals pick up from 2011. A 22 year old Theo seems to be finding his feet in a squad that has a lot of promising young talent around.

We then come to his most fruitful season, 2012/13. Theo was nothing short of brilliant that year and he was so good a lot of fans were shitting their pants at the idea of him not putting pen to paper and “signing da ting!”

As with a lot of Theo’s career, he then was then given a setback. Another injury. His development has been stunted by some very long layoffs and this must be considered when analysing his progression. You cannot expect a talent to flower to its full capacity if it isn’t allowed to germinate in the footballing garden (unnecessarily extended horticulture metaphor).

The ripening of Theo was also deferred by his inability to pick a fucking position. Is he a winger? A wide forward? A number 9? Is he best used playing off a target man? Who the shit knows? Two people who certainly don’t know are Theo and, unfortunately, Arsène. It’s up for debate if Arsène does indeed know Theo’s best place, but I haven’t seen Theo perform consistently well in one position. Therefore, you have to portion some of the blame to Arsène’s plate because the manager has to decide where he plays. I’m sure I’m ripping off someone on a podcast here so excuse me, but the manager has to tell him at some point that he has to decide what he is. You cannot go through your career with no identity, like some sort of attacking utility James boring Milner.

He’s hinted at talents in all of the above positions. Yet, that’s the problem. Hinted! He’s a burlesque dancer. Waltzing around the pitch, covering his sexy bits with feathers and teasing the crowd with his good stuff underneath. WE WANT TO SEE YOUR GOOD STUFF, THEO! SHOW US YOUR FOOTBALLING TITS! If the idea of burlesque is to tease and titillate, then Theo “Madam Tease-a-lot” is a fucking Jedi master of it. He can be capable of giving you a rock hard boner and pouring cold water over it all at the same time.

I’ve been at games where he actively seems to seek out opposition players to avoid receiving the ball. He hides and it’s apparent for all to see. Why does he hide?

Because we (myself included) can be sodding pricks to the man. We love to jump on his back. I ask why again, and to come full bloody circle back to the beginning of this blog – HE EMBODIES WHERE WE HOPED WE’D BE NOW. 

Sitting at the top table with Real, Bayern and Barca. Sipping on Courvoisier and swapping anecdotes with Wills and Kate. Instead we’re having a fucking Nandos with Kerry Katona whilst Olly Murs is on the radio and Darius Danesh has just walked in and kicked off because his macho peas aren’t spicy enough. 

Theo! Arsenal! You should be royalty! Instead, you’re B list. You’re both on the brink of getting onto that red carpet with Streep and Jolie, but you’re also not that far away from being the face of the next Iceland advert.

You’re a nice man, Theo, and I like you. Yet...

That’s not enough for a lot of fans and I. I’ve had relationships with girls like you: I like you, but I can’t see you having my beautiful and handsome (blowing my own trumpet here) babies. It’s your niceness that seems to embody your game. 

There’s a lack of killer instinct in you that Henry and the other greats had. They had the eye of the tiger, and you’re a bit more of a kitten who I want to nurse back to full health. Reading this back it sounds harsh. To me, it’s simply how I feel. Theo’s time at Arsenal will be regarded as one that was never quite what it should’ve been. So much promise. So much potential. Yet (and that’s the millionth time I’ve used that word), it never really got out of, somewhat appropriately, 4th gear.

Arsenal are in desperate need of some extra firepower and Theo sadly isn’t the Gunner who packs that punch. Time's up, Theo. It's too late. 

May the force be with you.

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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Tags: Theo Walcott, Star Wars, Darth Arse

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