Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis have been busy this summer securing the services of players that are already at the club. Theo Walcott got the ball rolling signing a new contract before the season was up, next on Arsene’s priority was striker Robin van Persie. It has taken longer to convince the Holland international to sign an extension. Though van Persie has not put pen to paper, he will do so within the next few days.
This week we have had a player a day sign new contracts.
First it was Wales international Aaron Ramsey, who only joined the club last summer has signed a new extended contract. Wenger has liked what he saw in Ramsey on the training ground and in the few matches he has played, Wenger is convinced that Ramsey will develop into a good player worthy of the Arsenal shirt.
Yesterday we had Jack Wilshere sign a new contract, an extension on the contract he signed in January. Wilshere exploded onto the scene at the beginning of the season and even though he faded at the end of the season, this boy has a bright future ahead of him. This is a player that Capello wanted fast-tracked into the under-21 squad, only for my favourite coach Stuart Pearce, to say he does not play enough first team games; well who is going to argue with Pearce with all his wealth of international football knowledge, what does Capello know.
Today we here that Kieran Gibbs has signed a new contract. This is reward for a player who has stepped into the left-back role and has grown bigger and stronger with every game. Gibbs came from nowhere to make the left-back slot his own in the England under-21 team, and given a decent run in the forthcoming season; Capello could make Kieran a surprise selection for the World Cup squad.
Whilst it is important to sign new players, to freshen the squad, it is just as important to secure the players that are already in your squad. We would not forgive Wenger or Gazidis if they allowed these youngsters to leave Arsenal, so they must be congratulated for ensuring that these players will be Arsenal for the long term. The other satisfactory part of these signings is that apart from van Persie, the others are young British players, an indication of the direction in which Arsenal is slowly moving.
Stuart Pearce fought tooth and nail to get Theo Walcott to the European under-21 Championships. This was in the face of fierce opposition from Arsene Wenger who feared player burn-out. Theo wanted to go to the tournament as Pearce made clear he was a pivotal part of his plans.
Game 1, Theo started against Finland, but after a lacklustre performance from the team and when one of Pearce’s “loved ones”; Mancienne get himself sent-off it was Theo who was replaced at half-time. So much for Theo being pivotal to the team and so much for giving Theo “much needed tournament experience.”
In the run up to game two against one of the tournament favourites Spain, the word from the England camp was that Walcott was going to be dropped. This was a total disgrace. Theo is an integral part of the full England squad set up, one of the first names on the team-sheet, yet we had Stuart Pearce a failed league manager treating the boy like a failure. It was Pearce who wanted and begged Walcott to go to the tournament and now he was treating him in this shabby way.
Theo was dropped and England struggled in the first half with Agbonlahor injured after 39 minutes, Pearce turns to Campbell and leaves Theo kicking his heels on the bench. This was further insult to Walcott to be overlooked for a player who never made it onto the Tottenham bench never mind play any games for them last season. It was only when Walcott was introduced with fewer than 30 minutes left that England started to threaten and eventually won the game.
The way Pearce has treated Theo in a terrible way yet Theo has acted as a gentleman and not uttered a word of malcontent. Theo would have been justified to have walked out of the England camp and said his priority is to be fresh for Arsenal and England; instead he has remained loyal to a manager who deserves no loyalty. Once the tournament is over, Theo should make it clear to Pearce that under no circumstances will he play for the under-21s again.
Theo Walcott joined us on the back of much hype and controversy. Arsenal were prepared to pay in the region of £16 million (eventually he cost £9 million because we paid earlier than agreed). Arsenal beat Liverpool and Chelsea for the youngster’s signature something that still riles Benitez.
His progress was slow at Arsenal; he was restricted to a series of substitute appearances, and not scoring until the Carling Cup final, a fact that had the media laying the blame at Arsene’s doorstep.
Last season was another stop-start campaign, but he broke his league scoring duck at Birmingham.
We were all wondering when we will ever see the full potential of the young Englishman. Then after a game for England in which he scored a hat-trick, he found the self belief in his own abilities. He started to take defenders on, turning them one way then another. He was running at players, more direct and was not afraid to shoot. Just as we were licking our lips at seeing Walcott in full throttle for a whole season, he was injured whilst on England duty.
Three long months later, Theo returned to the fold.
He scored on his first four outings and had no qualms or reservations at attacking defenders. Theo in full flow is a sight to see, unless you are a defender. His pace will take him past defenders either inside or on the outside. His is not a player that likes stepovers, he is direct.
What Theo needs to learn to do is hold the ball sometimes rather send in cross after cross. With Arsenal playing with one striker, his crosses often bypass the main striker. He needs to wait for more support before crossing. Theo needs to work on a better delivery, but this will come with time and games. Once he can work on a final ball he will turn into a great player.
Theo is the future of Arsenal football club, he might not be the biggest of players, but he has speed and an eye for goal. The club must do everything in June or July to make him sign a new contract.
It has been a long time coming, but tonight Theo Walcott has shown the world what his is capable of doing. Scoring three goals and make run after run. This following a great display against Andorra has put Wlacott ahead of Beckham and Bentley in the pecking order fro the right wing role. What must Bentley be thinking, dream move to Tottenham, with Arsenal pocketing £7M, only to find a teenager keeping him out of the England team.
Now Wenger and all Arsenal fans will be hoping that Theo will reproduce his England form for Arsenal a regular basis. Now is the time for Walcott to put his marker down in the Premier League, to terrorise defenders, to create chances and to score goals. Now is the time for the boy to become a man, now is the time for Walcott to lay the foundations at Arsenal that will make him an Arsenal Legend.
Theo we have faith in you, now is the time to show the world why Wenger bought you as a sixteen year old and spent £9million.