Is Theo Walcott Actually Any Good?

It is a serious question.

His omission from the England squad was the biggest news regarding the 7 man cull yesterday and for me it was surprising because the England team is full over average players. It’s an average squad and an average team. If you wanted a definition of average then this currently England squad is it.

So Theo can feel hard done by because he’s no less average than anyone else in the squad.

Robert Green, Glenn Johnson, Stephen Warnock, Matthew Upson, Michael Carrick, Shaun Wright-Philips, Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey are extremely average players. At least Theo has a bit of pace.

But it begs the question, how good is Theo Walcott?

Because for me, he hasn’t developed. When he first arrived at Southampton, I saw footage of a young teenager with blistering pace and an eye for goal. Obviously it was in the lower divisions, but he was fearless and took on players with ease. But since joining Arsenal he hasn’t progressed.

When he first arrived I described him as “just a sprinter”. Harsh perhaps, but his vision, passing and crossing was raw. He is great at latching onto a through ball but the intelligence isn’t there for me.

And maybe I’m being harsh, but surely training with players like Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas would improve your skill on the ball. I’m astounded that he hasn’t picked up any tricks or ways to beat players. He is so one-dimensional it’s unbelievable. Intelligent defenders know exactly where he’s going – he doesn’t feint, he doesn’t shift the ball and he doesn’t knock it passed a player and run onto it. With a player gifted with his outstanding pace he doesn’t make the most of it.

He doesn’t make the defender think about what he might do. Pace is a defenders worst nightmare but if you just run in straight lines then it’s easy to defend against.

But is that Theo’s fault? You would think that Arsene Wenger would sit down and tell him to work on certain things. Thierry Henry and Ronaldo have proved you can be both skilful and have incredible pace but all Theo has is pace. His ball control and delivery is severely lacking and I’m not sure why neither of those things have progressed in the last 4 seasons.

There is the theory that Wenger’s approach to developing players is letting them work on their own ideals. So did Thierry Henry develop into a world-class player because he was more intelligent and knew what to work on? Some of the things Henry did were mind-blowing and maybe it was down to his own vision on the game.

The problem I have is seeing a position for Theo in the current Arsenal team. He can’t play as a central striker and I don’t think he has the intelligence to maximise the wide positions. Unfortunately, it seems like his biggest impact is from the bench because of his pace.