Whilst notions such as bad luck and poor timing admittedly had their role to play for the front-man last term, overall the 2014/15 campaign certainly turned out to be a rather frustrating spell for Arsenal and England’s quick-footed striker, Theo Walcott.
Through being disappointingly sidelined for the good part of a year thanks to a testing knee injury picked up against Tottenham Hotspur the season before, the 26-year-old forward had a lot to contend with when he finally made his return to first team action at the Emirates. To this day, there a several football fans out there who simply don’t rate the former Southampton man and the prospect he offers ‘up-top’ for Arsene Wenger’s side.
However, as Walcott most definitely has to go down as a natural finisher when given space in the final third. The tail-end of last season ultimately proved a much more profitable period for the pacey Arsenal striker. In scoring several goals towards the culmination of the campaign, as well as one very important effort in the 2015 FA Cup final, the one-time England international certainly made his presence felt once again throughout the Premier League.
So then, with Arsene Wenger reportedly hoping to seal a new deal for his lightening quick no. 14 ahead of the new campaign, what does 2015/16 ultimately have in store for Theo Walcott as he looks to fully re-establish his reputation back among the English top-flight?
Well, as Arsenal will supposedly be in the hunt for a new centre-forward before the new campaign actually begins, many have suspected that the 26-year-old Englishman will have his work cut out for him across the coming campaign. When played as an isolated winger or as a solitary centre-forward, Walcott seems to enjoy far less of the ball – yet when partnered with a recognised strike-partner up-top – the Arsenal man certainly proves a worthwhile selection.
With the Gunners reportedly interested in bringing Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema to the Premier League next season, the prospect of playing Walcott alongside the dangerous Frenchman would seemingly go down as some pretty exciting news for Arsenal fans ahead of the new campaign.
As Arsene Wenger traditionally only plays one recognised striker in his preferred formation, however, perhaps such a potentially exciting outcome will ultimately never see the light of day at the Emirates.
Either way, Walcott will have to truly prove himself across the coming season if he is to fully restore his reputation among the Emirates faithful, and the rest of the English footballing community in general. In the past, the rapid front-man has been heavily criticised for letting the pressure get to him at key moments, and failing to display much of a ‘footballing brain’ when the situation requires.
Walcott seemingly proves far less effective when given time on the ball and forced into make a choice, yet when he’s played through in front of goal with only the keeper to beat, the striker’s natural instincts usually come to the forefront and he quite often delivers the goods for his side. Therefore, if he is used correctly next season and issued with the confidence that his quality deserves, 2015/16 could really be a promising year for the player.
However, if such a fairy-tale like outcome ever comes off for Walcott across the coming season, the threat of injuries and further fitness worries will simply have to make themselves scarce. The former St. Mary’s youngster ultimately can’t afford to be side-lined for another 12 months as he was previously. Arsenal will likely be forced to move on without him if the situation worsens for Walcott, with his involvement in the England national squad also being placed under threat.
If the tail-end of last season is anything to go by though, the Emirates faithful may not even have to indulge themselves in such a negative eventuality. There is no reason to suggest that Walcott will fail to impress next season, especially with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey returning to the first-team unit at Arsenal for a sustained period of time.
With a good set of midfielders in place to supply him with the ammunition in the final third, the confidence of his manager firmly locked within his psyche ahead of the new season – and perhaps one more marquee signing in the striking department for the Gunners next term – Theo Walcott will likely have all the tools necessary to impress once again in the Premier League.
Without the aforementioned aspects on board for the front-man next season, however, the player himself could ultimately drop off the radar once again. The 2015/16 campaign will therefore serve to make or break Theo Walcott one way or another, regardless of the outcome.