What a performance from Walcott yesterday against Basel. I’ve constantly criticized Walcott, but he was on fire yesterday. In my last blog about Arsenal, I talked about how Campbell is constantly ignored and loaned out by Arsene Wenger while he keeps faith in Walcott, even after 10 years of inconsistency. I still stand by my criticism of him last year because he has been incredibly inconsistent and lacking in work rate. He never tackled, he never participated in build up play, and he couldn’t cross/shoot with any consistency.
This season, he’s corrected everything, and a lot of it is down to his mentality. The Guardian has a great article with Walcott from a few days ago, and the most telling quote is this: “Me and the manager sat down and I’ve just looked at myself…It’s a shame, maybe it should have hit me a few years ago but there’s been a change in my whole attitude.” The fact that he’s aware enough to say that he should’ve changed his attitude and work rate years ago is comforting — he’s acknowledging his mistakes and can rectify them, and he has!
He’s also returned to his best position: right wing. He has great movement off the ball, but his runs behind the defence always work better off the right wing when center backs are occupied or have to shift to cover their left back. He also can’t play with his back to goal, and while size makes a difference, even Messi and Aguero are capable of playing with their back to goal whether it’s hold-up play or one-touch layoffs, neither of which Walcott can do.
Hopefully, Walcott has now turned a new leaf and can start playing consistently well. In years past, he has had good runs of form that convinces people of his talent or potential and then he disappears for weeks, if not months. The change of attitude makes me believe that this might be his year where he repays the unshakeable faith that Wenger has in him.