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Football

How the gods conspired to deny Walcott a hero status at Arsenal

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Theo Walcott. Photo/Getty Images
  • Many look back on Walcott’s Arsenal tenure and say he ‘didn’t do enough despite his solid numbers and professionalism
  • Walcott became one of Arsenal’s highest-paid players, but he never lived up to expectations.
  • Despite not having Henry’s goals and assists, he did perform well for Arsenal

Theo Walcott played for Arsenal just under 400 times and scored 108 goals during that time, yet he will not be considered a club legend for a number of reasons. But things may have gone in a completely other direction.

In the 2008 Champions League quarter finals, Arsenal had Liverpool, Fernando Torres put Liverpool ahead in the second half. Arsenal reacted by putting Theo Walcott in the game in a decision that so nearly paid dividends.

The unlucky Walcott

Walcott was unlucky in that regard because it was the second time during that season that he produced a contribution that had the potential to establish him as a cult figure but was, in the end, rendered useless.

Walcott

Walcott joined Arsenal in 2016. Photo: 90min

You have to understand that the relevance of a player in his fan base is not just determined by the number of goals but also by its values. 

As an illustration, Jesse Lingard’s status among the Old Trafford crowd has been enhanced no end by wins in the 2016 FA Cup final, the 2007 League Cup final, and his brace in the 3-1 triumph at Emirates Stadium. This was the case, at least for a while.

However, it appeared that Walcott would not have the same good fortune.

In the League Cup final in 2007, he scored his first goal for Arsenal, which put his club ahead early.

Didier Drogba reversed the tide with two goals, the second of which came in the final ten minutes of the game, and it had the potential to be a defining moment if he hadn’t scored them.

In February of the following year, he would score his first league goals for the club against Birmingham City. Both of his goals came inside the span of just five minutes.

Eduardo always overshadowed Walcott

Walcott would have to step out of the shadow of his teammate Eduardo in order to play a significant role in his team’s come-from-behind triumph.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott. Photo/ Getty Images

The game had started with Eduardo suffering a horrible injury, so this would have been a significant accomplishment for Walcott.

Past 90, Stuart Parnaby fell in the box, James McFadden netted the equalising penalties. William Gallas lost himself, and Arsenal started what would wind up being a run that would end up being one win in eight that would cost them the title.

Another opportunity for Walcott to shine was missed during the second half at Anfield. Although Emmanuel Adebayor may have been the one to provide the finishing touch. Theo Walcott should have be given credit for scoring the goal.

The finish by Adebayor, which came with six minutes remaining, gave Arsenal the advantage in terms of goals scored.

Bear in mind that this was a Liverpool squad who had been merciless, dominating their four previous home games .

When they were at their best, Liverpool’s defence was one of the finest in the league. It seems even more spectacular when you see Walcott blast through all of them like paper.

If Arsenal had been able to maintain their lead against Chelsea, we would be discussing The Moment Walcott Arrived.

Theo Walcott would have been Here and Now for Arsenal if they had pulled out the win in the dying seconds against Birmingham.

They just needed to last six more minutes at Anfield for people to start talking about Theo Walcott and his potential to shine on the global stage. But they were eliminated before that could happen.

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The Walcott currently plays for Southampton. Photo/Getty Images

Walcott continued to do more for Arsenal

However, they did not; neither we nor he did, and neither of us did. Walcott was doomed to a career of false dawns after Steven Gerrard netted a penalty and Ryan Babel scored a fourth Liverpool goal in extra time.

It was as if Walcott had decided to lean into his anti-hype rather than try to capitalise on it.

Walcott went on to do more for Arsenal, but it was uncommon that he would do so on a platform as big as this one.

His hat-trick in a match against Newcastle in 2013 was excellent but meaningless. His contribution to a spectacular comeback in the Champions League was proved null and useless by a masterpiece by Lionel Messi in the return leg of the match.

Huge goals may only be considered significant if your team members work together to keep them in that status.

It was just Walcott’s misfortune that things didn’t work out the way he wanted them to.

 

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