Theo Walcott has had a fairly eventful career considering he is only 20 years of age. Since his shock call up to the England squad for the 2006 World Cup pushed him into the limelight he has been hailed as the future of England. But now as the next World Cup approaches, Walcott has not progresses as much as he or indeed the people around him would have hoped for.
The pace and talent is still there, but it has yet to be translated into consistent performances for his club; Walcott’s career has been halted by a series of injuries and he has yet to develop the awareness and vision that is necessary to succeed at the top level. Walcott’s main problem is that every time he makes a step forward, something happens to halt his progress. He was selected for the World Cup in 2006 which would have boosted his confidence; but playing no part in the tournament set him back. He then started well for Arsenal with two assists in his first two appearances; Walcott scored his first goal for Arsenal in the 2007 League Cup Final but this was overshadowed by late Chelsea goals and a mass brawl. He scored his first Premier League goals a year later against Birmingham but again this was overshadowed by the injury to Eduardo and Arsenal’s subsequent collapse. He announced himself in the Champions League with a superb run and assist against Liverpool that should have seen Arsenal progress to the semi-final, but once again his good work was surpassed by later events in the game. Finally it appeared that Walcott was making real progress as he began to make starts for England under Capello and he scored a hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb. Soon after this defining moment Walcott suffered yet another setback as he dislocated his shoulder and missed over five months of the season.
Walcott’s career has been defined by great moments followed by setbacks; injuries have not allowed him to feature in the Arsenal team regularly and even when fit there is strong competition for places. In addition to this, there is the problem of not knowing where he plays best; the player himself sees himself as a central striker but he needs to work on his composure before he can succeed there. He currently operates on the right flank but it has also been suggested that he would perform better on the left drifting into the middle like Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Recently Walcott has made his comeback from his latest injury and his performances have been terrible. His pass completion is not good enough and his decision making does not seem to be improving as he matures. At 20 there is still plenty of time for him to improve and he has all the attributes needed to be a real star, but at a club like Arsenal if he does not perform there will always be talented players waiting to take his place in the team. There continue to be question marks hanging over the young England player.