An odyssey that set in motion on a helter-skelter transfer deadline day in August 2006, when Ashley Cole decided to swap the red and white for the blue and white, has cantered its full circle. It took another Englishman, signed from Southampton as a young starlet eight months before Cole sang his abrupt farewell song to Arsenal, to stop the velocity of the odyssey.
The terminal at Arsenal has been hustling ever since Cole left.
The departures at crucial junctures-when the club pictured a rosy future going forward-has crippled it's forward march and Arsene Wenger. Most of the players left were foreign and, worryingly, they all expressed a desire to pack their stocks—apart from Alex Song.
The ambition of the club was the impulse tune played by all of them, and in the process, the word loyalty suffered damaging gremlins.
The club has been in incurable decline, with challenging for the Premiership veering itself year by year. When the nurtured talent is shifted on a consistent basis due to varying reasons, the repercussions are evident. The gloomy outlook about it was that the club had no weight on players’ decisions and nor was it able to convince the bolters of where their future laid.
What sets Theo Walcott apart from the preceding pack is the eagerness to stay at Arsenal—whatever the lack of spending power it retains—as the forward signed a new deal with the club on Friday.
His mind is set on his roots and to thrive on them—which come back to the center-forward position. While his greatest admirer would admit he isn’t the finished product, the minutes he has been employed upfront he has expressed positional awareness to complement a calm head. The glaring misses have been then and there but he has most of the time found the kiss of life that linked winning ingredient.
Walcott hasn’t added up to the sum of his parts since moving to Arsenal.
When he smashes a scintillating hat trick against Croatia one day, he could be the speed-gun threatened non-provider in the wings the next day. The promise hasn’t been fulfilled. But for all the criticism and carping towards him, what’s admirable about Walcott is the unshaken hunger to set his heart on what he had set himself to. Hence, the usual "I will let my football do the talking" has occupied his lips.
Through all these years of underachievement, there’s one man who has stood beside him unceasingly: Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has been let down by hordes of his talent-spotting eye beneficiaries. The tears on it finally have an avenue to dry down. The compromise between Arsenal and Walcott certainly could have involved money too, but from the eventual outcome, it’s evident that it wasn’t the only card factored in.
And contrary to previous rebels, Walcott is a work in progress.
His crosses have seen recuperation last season, and to shape up from it, the striking has resembled a newfound sharpness, sometimes even lethality. With the Premiership’s competitiveness reaching dizzying heights each season, the newfangled trust in British players has yet to be measured; but the new deals signed at least provide security. And that’s a start.
It’s ironic that Walcott put pen to the new deal on the same day as his former employers Southampton put the pen out of the back-to-back promotions hero Nigel Adkins—mutually exclusive in their own way, but synonymous nonetheless in their own merry giggle.
This doesn’t paper over the cracks that the club are currently embroiled with. The times may have change—with waging a war against the money that pours in almost a lost cause—but the set model at Arsenal has to be respected since it has bred championship squads.
The biggest victory for the club achieved on Jan. 18—regardless of the necessity to bolster the squad, the cries to shell some more money and the lack of a major trophy for eight years—is the trend has been stopped. The voice of the wilderness has been heard.
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