Theo Walcott rediscovers swagger in wide role for Arsenal

By on September 28, 2016

Theo Walcott was Arsenal’s longest serving player for the first time when he stepped out onto the Wembley Stadium pitch to face Chelsea in the Community Shield in early August of last year. And yet, it still felt as if he had a point to prove.

The pacy winger made his Gunners debut as a teenager in 2006 and spent years clawing his way into the starting eleven, only for a series of injuries to derail his momentum from 2013 to 2015. The lean frame that gifted Walcott his blistering pace also came at a cost, in that he simply seemed too fragile for the Premier League at times.

His recovery was hindered by a sort of identity crisis on the pitch. The Englishman spent last season flip-flopping between a central position and a wide role, pleading for his chance up top one day and changing his mind the next. He made twenty-eight league appearances last season, but never pinned down a starting role and only scored five goals.

Walcott might have made his first Arsenal breakthrough over a decade ago, but the penny finally appears to have dropped that he still belongs on the wing. The twenty-seven-year-old has begun the season on a blistering run of form, scoring five goals in seven games from wide right.

“Theo’s career is made of ups and downs,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, per The Guardian. “Why did I always stick with him? Because I think he is ambitious but he is intelligent and with intelligent people there is always a chance. He has what the big players have. They have a fair assessment of their performances and their weaknesses.”

Walcott is, at long last, proving his gaffer’s trust worthwhile, citing his upturn in form down to a change in attitude. He sat down with Wenger over the offseason and stumbled upon the important realization that he wanted to play out wide again — as if embracing his one-dimensionality.

“I can play anywhere across the line,” he said, “but I wanted to go back to what I know best and the manager’s put so much faith in me by playing me on the right-hand side, so [sic] I need to keep on repaying that faith.”

“I want this team to do well and you can see that in my desire and the way that I’m playing at the moment. I want it more than anyone else, but that’s just me and the way that I work now. It’s a shame, maybe it should have hit me a few years ago because there’s been a slight change in my whole attitude.”

Sure enough, the goals have come thick and fast. Walcott opened Arsenal’s Premier League goalscoring account with a neat finish in their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on opening day and strikes against Hull City and Chelsea have already taken him close to his tally of five goals from last season.

He scored two more goals on Wednesday night to see Arsenal past FC Basel in the Champions League, utilizing his pace to tear apart Arsenal’s Swiss opponents.

The winger appears to be thriving on his newfound confidence and Wenger noted: “He’s ready to fight, to commit and straight away he gets the crowd behind him. Theo Walcott of that stature is a completely different player.”

About Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan, founder of Football Every Day, lives and breaths football from the West Coast of the United States in California. Aside from founding Football Every Day in January of 2013, Alex has also launched his own journalism career and hopes to help others do the same with FBED. He covers the San Jose Earthquakes as a beat reporter for and his work has also been featured in the BBC's Match of the Day Magazine.