Now please don’t get me wrong. I love Theo Walcott. There are few finer sights than the young Arsenal forward surging majestically past an opposing defender leaving his desperate marker staring forlornly at a pair of disappearing soles. And who could argue with his best ever goal tally this season of 20 and counting? Theo has never looked as good or as confident in an Arsenal shirt as he has this season.
Yet I can’t help but worry. Walcott’s main weapon has always been his blistering pace. It enables him to get into positions few other forwards could manage, and gives him an edge in any one-on-one encounter. His pace carves out opportunities from apparently lost causes and takes up much of the attention of opposing defenders, often leaving gaps for his Arsenal team mates. But does Theo offer anything else?
Certainly his finishing is improving all the time, and he has started to develop the coolness in front of goal that all great forwards need. In spite of that, the doubts linger. I think back to the promise shown by a young Michael Owen, another player with lightning pace who relied on stealing that extra yard to put him into advantageous positions. More recently, Fernando Torres looked invincible in his first season with Liverpool. But both of those players were shadows of their former selves after returning from lengthy injuries. Without the kind of pace they took for granted prior to injury, they struggled to make the kind of openings they’d been used to creating, and became frustrated with losing a vital facet of their game.
Obviously, I hope something like that never happens to the Arsenal ace. Because I fear that without his pace, much like Owen and Torres, Theo might not have enough else to offer at the highest level.