From want-away winger to star scorer, how Theo Walcott has stepped up this season
Theo Walcott is experiencing a superb run of form for Arsenal and looks to be one of Arsene Wenger’s star men in what has the makings of a promising season.
But what has changed for the man that, if rumours were to believed, was on the transfer pile this summer?
Walcott was virtually unplayable against Chelsea in a 3-0 rout and bagged a brace against Basel in the Champions League.
Firstly, Walcott has phenomenally stepped up his work rate to that of an elite level winger and has already made more tackles in league games (12 in six matches) than in the previous two seasons combined (11 in 42 matches).
In fact, this can be clearly seen by a two-minute spell against Basel. First the winger sped back into his own half to win the ball off Adama Traore and less than 60 seconds later, he was sprinting his way into the box to head in an Alexis Sanchez ball.
A change that led manager Wenger to say: “I think he used to be 90 per cent forward and 10 per cent defending. Today he is 50-50. He does the job both ways and he does it both ways with commitment.”
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Secondly, his positioning is much improved and now consistently finds himself is superb space. Instead of remaining static and dropping deep to receive the ball, he is now driving through the opposition’s backline and penetrating defences.
Walcott is finding space in between opposition full back and centre back and destructively running through it.
The emergence of Sanchez as an out-in-out forward has also helped the England winger, allowing him room to roam inside the box and into more dangerous areas.
In Sanchez and Walcott the Gunners could have the makings of a deadly duo and the future looks bright.