Theo Walcott Is Finally Realising His Potential at Arsenal

Aaron GalesCorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2013

Theo Walcott is in great form for Arsenal this season.
Theo Walcott is in great form for Arsenal this season.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

There are not many players who have divided fans and pundits like Theo Walcott.

Ever since he was named in Sven Goran Erikkson's World Cup squad in 2006 at the tender age of 17, Walcott's career has been lived out in the glare of the public eye.

Due to the high expectations placed upon him, Walcott has sometimes struggled to live up to the hype. What people forget is that at 17 years old, Walcott was still at the very beginning of his football development.

It is generally considered that players do not reach their peak until their mid- to late-20s, and while it is clear that Walcott has improved in each season he has played, some have been frustrated by his seemingly slow progress.

That has all changed this season, however; the turning point came at the back end of last season in Arsenal's home victory against biggest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

In the first half Walcott gave one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt. Stationed on the right-hand side he could only look on as Spurs raced into a 2-0 lead.

Every time Walcott touched the ball he disappointed, whether it was a misplaced pass, an overhit cross or a wayward attempt on goal. I thought he would be taken off at half-time and was sad to see what a promising English talent had been reduced to.

However, Arsene Wenger kept the faith and sent Walcott back out for the second half, in a slightly more central role. Walcott defied the doubters and was outstanding as Arsenal scored five second-half goals, with Walcott bagging himself a brace.

Despite a contract wrangle hanging over him this season, Walcott has thrived this season.

Moved to the central striking position that he has craved for so long, he has responded with 16 goals in 26 appearances this season. This is the most goals he has ever scored in a season, and with many games still to go he will be aiming to get himself up to the 25-30 goal bracket before the end of the season.

With Walcott in such good form it is only a matter of time before Roy Hodgson gives Walcott a chance as a centre forward. He is a composed finisher, his pace is phenomenal and his movement always keeps defenders guessing. There are still areas of his game that need improving particularly when he finds himself in wider areas of the pitch, and his link-up play with his midfielders is something that will develop as he gets more used to playing the role.

If Walcott can maintain this form and Wenger can keep his best players at the club and add two or three more players in the summer, Arsenal might finally have a squad capable of ending their trophy drought.