Theo Gets Lucky… Three Times!!!

By on August 22, 2010

After a two-week break for Arsenal Station due to illness, I return to my blogging duties at the best of times. After our satisfactory result/disappointing performance at Liverpool last weekend, Arsenal needed to put in a quality performance. Of course, there are huge issues still surrounding the squad, but a 6-nil victory, no matter the opposition, can only give the team confidence going forward. (Highlights, as usual, are in the sidebar to the right).

The first word out of anyone’s mouth when discussing yesterday’s match has to be “Theo.” Obviously, the headline is a jibe at those “pundits” who seem to find joy in criticizing Walcott. He was fantastic yesterday, doing all the things in one performance that we have only too often seen sporadically. Of course, he used his pace to its full effect effectively torturing, if not demoralizing, Stephen Crainey. But, as we have all become painfully aware, pace alone does not a footballer make. Yesterday, Theo used his speed to get in behind the defense on occasions too numerous to recall. Even more importantly, he made good decisions and played good balls when he found himself in advanced positions.

His performance wasn’t perfect, as Alan Hansen will gladly remind us. However, all three goals were extremely well-taken, especially the last two goals. The first came from a classic Arsenal-style combination from Rosicky to Arshavin and finally to Walcott who slotted home at the far post. The second saw Walcott take the ball with his back to goal in the box and use his turn to get the extra half-yard of space he needed to once again slot home at the far post. The third goal, however, was truly fantastic. Taking a pass from Rosicky on the run while sandwiched between two Blackpool defenders, Walcott darted between them into the box drawing another defender on the way before a perfectly-placed shot with his left foot. Walcott’s passing was, on the whole, excellent as well. Did he play every ball perfectly? Of course not. Does anyone? No. So Alan Hansen go fuck off.

In order to keep developing, Theo simply needs minutes. He has to play. Arsene’s overly-protective handling of Walcott, or more precisely the expectations surrounding Walcott, surely must be at an end. At 21 years old, his development must now come on the pitch. The moment of truth will come when van Persie and Bendtner are fully healthy. Will Theo, by then, have earned his place in the starting XI?

On his home debut, Chamakh’s performance was somewhat of a mixed bag. He could easily have had a hat-trick yesterday had his finishing been less profligate. I mean, the miss on the ball from Arshavin with an open net was probably harder to miss than to score. Still, his run drew the penalty and sending-off which condemned Blackpool and he got his first goal for the club with the kind of goal Arsene hoped to get out of him regularly when he signed the Moroccan. A quality header off a van Persie corner sealed the scoreline.

However, one cannot help but wonder what will happen when van Persie is ready to come back into the starting XI. Will he be moved wide left? Surely Arsene did not buy a tall centre-forward to play him out wide. Yet, van Persie’s best form last year, at the start of the season, came with him in a central role spearheading the 4-3-3. What use is a 4-3-3 if you have three centre-forwards as your top three, i.e. RvP-Chamakh-Bendtner? Will personnel force Arsene to abandon the 4-3-3? That would seem unlikely as he, and the side, have become relatively comfortable with the formation. It will be interesting to see how Wenger manipulates both his formation and his players to accomodate an overload of central strikers very similar to the overabundance of central midfielders the club has had in recent years.

Just going around the lineup, almost everyone had a better performance than last week at Anfield. Arshavin seemed much more lively, involved, and interested. Diaby and Wilshere were more solid. The return of Song, though wasted as a CB, was also a welcome development, as was the return of van Persie and Cesc as late substitutes. The one man who really built on his performance last week was Tomas Rosicky.

Rosicky had given Arsenal a boost when he was brought on last week and earned himself a place in the starting XI for the match against Blackpool. He was involved in almost every one of Arsenal’s most threatening moves. Rosicky is beginning to look like the player we thought we were getting four years ago. His injury situation of the last three years has become damn near comical, but he looks ready for his first long run of matches in years. If only his body will hold up…

Of course, not much of the big picture can be judged on a match at home against the top relegation candidate, especially when they are reduced to ten men for much of the match. Still, you can only beat the team in front of you and Arsenal did that mightily yesterday. Questions remain about whether Arsene will be able to secure another CB and a new keeper before the window closes in 9 days, but, for now, we can at least enjoy yesterday’s result and, perhaps finally, the emergence of Theo Walcott as a real first-XI regular.


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  1. Tiqo

    August 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    F*** Alan Hansen

  2. Cbev

    August 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Bendtner will never start over theo I repeat never, arshavin would start lw vp at center and Theo at rw. A few changes to mix it up every now and then, lm nasri cm fab rm wilshire/diaby. But like I said given arsene’s choice bendtner would never get a starting place over Theo

  3. Cbev

    August 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Also arsene has shown to like the 4-4-2 this season with vp and chamakh up top and I failed to mention rosicky who if healthy could easily start rm rcm fab lcm nasri lm arshavin

  4. Gtr gooner

    August 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    F*** off alan hansen

  5. bedy

    August 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm


  6. London

    August 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    You write a good report, I find myself reading them more and more. It’s quality stuff up there.

    Have you heard the news from Sevilla’s web site that a fee has been agreed for Squillaci he is in London for a medical tomorrow.

  7. London

    August 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Oh, and great title.

  8. London

    August 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    This may seem like a daft question but how do you guys get MOTD?

    • Arsenal Station

      August 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Do you mean “us guys” here in America? I download MotD from various sources every week as well as Sky’s preview and review shows, Football Focus, Sunday Supplement, etc…. We pretty much get everything here through the internet that they get on television in England.

      Thanks for the compliments, Lee.

  9. Davi

    August 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Honestly I think hansen made a fair point. Playing instinctively, everyone gives the ball away at times, and theo did yesterday, but more often than not in any game, theo will make mistakes when he has too much time to think about things. I dont think that’s an unfair criticism. BUT I disagree that he cannot learn to improve. I dont think you are “born with a football brain”, but it does come more naturally to some people.
    Hansen did try to be as complimentary as he could as well, but it was one performance against a weak opposition. Nobody should be getting carried away at this point. This happens once or twice a season with walcott and he has faded away every time so far.

  10. Tim

    August 23, 2010 at 4:27 am

    I agree Wenger will stick with the 4-3-3, which is very much in vogue these days, isn’t it? (And it suits our personnel better.)

    With a full squad to choose from, I think Wenger will play Chamakh centrally, van Persie wide (a role he has played in the past for Holland) and either Walcott or Arshavin on the other flank, with Bendtner and Vela available from the bench. That would mean a midfield three of Cesc, Song and Rosicky/Nasri, with Wilshere, Diaby and Denilson as backup (plus Ramsey, when he’s back). Of course, they will never all be fit at the same time, but that’s quite a line-up!

    If you’re interested, here are my thoughts on Saturday’s game: http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2010/08/22/arsenal-and-walcott-bring-blackpool-down-to-earth-with-a-bump/

  11. Jonathan

    August 30, 2010 at 2:04 am

    how ’bout that net buster against blackburn!

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