Prospects, Walcott and… Andy Linighan

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Match updates via text – how 2006 is that? It fell on the willing shoulders of @feverpitch to keep me in the loop during Saturday’s game, as I had been called up for duty elsewhere. He did a sterling job, signing it all off by waxing lyrical about Andy Linighan. It takes a man of a certain age to a) remember Andy Linighan and b) wax lyrical about him.

Would Linighan get into today’s team? Ha – now there’s a conundrum. No, in short. Though I’d have him as a sub, if only so he could come on, zombie-like and barely able to see through a bloodied bandage, to nod a 93rd minute cup final winner.

As an Arsenal fan, it feels like a slightly odd time though. A cursory glance at the league table tells you that we are doing very well; within sneezing distance of second in fact, and not impossibly far away from the league leaders with just 11 games remaining.

But still, any talk of a genuine title challenge seems incredibly fanciful to me, and I’m hardly the only one to think that. It’s not borne of deep natural pessimism, though I do have some of that floating about, more a realistic assessment based on what we have seen so far. Are we disgruntled as fans? No, I’d say not. But we’re far from being gruntled. (With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse).

For much of this campaign, the next defensive blip or injury has seemed nearer than the next run of form, and yet here we are, far from out of things.

What we are crying out for more than anything is for the injury clouds to miraculously burn off and for some of our key players to hit a rich vein of form. I chuckle sourly as I write that of course, because it’s easier said than done. It does sound plainly obvious too, but how can any team be properly judged when half its big players are either out long-term, or are blighted by boomerang injuries? It’s held us back all season, along with kamikaze losses of concentration.

One of the players who has had a poor old season but who could yet make an enormous difference over the next three months is of course Theo Walcott. He’s had something wrong with just about every part of his body this season, so perhaps we have expected too much too soon. By the sound of it, his game did pick up on Saturday – can he rip into form just at the right time? What a weapon he might be if he could.

Wenger for one has bemoaned the “terrible pressure” on Walcott, presumably most of it because he is English and we’re in a World Cup year. It’s been said before, but he needs to forget England completely and get on with improving his game for his employers. Look after his club form and the international side of things will take care of itself. There’s no doubt that a confident, fit and hungry Walcott could be like… am I allowed to say… oh go on then… a new signing.

Anyway, there’s a whole week off now to train for long throws and set pieces. And for the Arsenal medical team to dish out strepsils, deep heat and magic sponges to whoever finds himself on the injury list this week.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Baz

    Can Walcott discover his form? What form? Seriously. Four years on and we’re still no nearer to knowing if he’s the real deal or the unfortunate victim of hype. He can run. So can Usain Bolt. But does he have a footballing brain? I don’t think so. I like him and I hope he proves me wrong, but there are few signs of it yet.

  2. RotorGoat

    I take your point – great performances are too rare. But he has been injured loads and he is only 21 – you can discount the first couple of years of his career seeing he was only 17 when he signed.

  3. Tommo

    When we signed him I remember watching YouTube vids of him at Southampton. He pulled off some very neat shots. I think the old no football brain argument is wide of the mark. He might just be a crap footballer. But something is telling me he’ll come good…….next season around November.

  4. GunnerSinceIWasAGlintInTheMilkman'sEye

    I really wonder about the intelligence or rather lack of it, of a number of our fans. They must rely on the media and other blogs to get their opinoons it seems. Theo is a quality young player, has been blighted by injuries, but can produce the goods. I have seen him do it, but the knee jerk nature of the Sky Sports fed sheep simply refuse to accept that he is anything other than shit. Just as tyhey wrote off Diaby and Song, oh and probably booed Eboue too.

    Can you imagine what these glory hunters would have made of Ian Wright? I mean, he was ancient before he did anything wasn’t he!

  5. The Saint

    Any chance we can get Akinfeev in the summer?

  6. A

    I’d rather we get Lloris to Akinfeev, but they’d both be in the £15-20m range so wouldn’t be too hopeful….

    What if we play a diamond formation with Walcott and bendtner upfront, eboue RM and nasri LM?ofcouse cesc CAM and Song DM…

  7. chris

    9 wins, mate –
    This team can win 9 of the last 11 games if they play close to their best in mosyt games OR if Arshaving (who has been off his A game all year for me) or Fabregas (who has been carrying the team in goalscoring/assisting terms since RvP was injured but still hasn’t always looked his best) OR if enough people (like Eboue on Saturday or Diaby or Bendtner or Eduardo or maybe TV step up).
    Stoke is vetal in that: They’re unbeaten this year and strong and well organised – win there and the 9 wins thing is really starting to work, lose and it’s desperation all over again. Even a draw wouldn’t be too bad imo but a win (any win) would really push the door open.

  8. stevus

    When asked for his views on a title challenge, Theo should politely shake his head, walk past the inteviewer and on to the training pitch. When Nike want to film yet another commercial espousing “this is not the hundred metres on a football pitch” he should decline that too. Humility can be Theo’s best asset next to his pace. Achieve things with Arsenal Theo, then give all the bloody interviews, do the adverts and win the caps. Until then, PLEASE shut up.

  9. goonergerry

    Theo making runs and being more responsible in defence is progress. Theo now needs to concentrate on staying fit and producing an end product to his runs-Hes had a load of injuries-some coming from a lack of protection from referees. His confidence has clearly deserted him-and he needs a couple of goals. How about not loading too much expectation on such a young player. If people cant see his talent, they must be blind.

  10. Jeff/433

    I think Walcott has shown some fantastic form during his time at Arsenal, and not just in one or two matches – more like 20 or so. His recent form, though, has been poor, and I thought he was shocking in the last match. He and Clichy should both be ashamed of their crossing. It’s been nowhere near good enough.

  11. DB10

    Eboue must continue to be played at right back IMO. He provides the spark that this misfiring machine we call Arsenal needs and was my man of the match against Sunderland. Sagna has definately gone ino reverse this season, his crossing is as bad as Walcott’s. I must be honest – there are some players at our club that I wouldn’t pay with horse shit.

  12. Farnborough Gunner

    There are so many players at Arsenal who are not playing as well as we know they can that there must be an underlying problem.

    Maybe it’s the way the squad is being coached or motivated – would some of our players play the way they do if the had to face Sir Alex afterwards?

    Maybe it’s the 4-3-3 formation, which doesn’t suit the players we have had available of late; e.g. Eduado is best playing off a main striker in a 4-4-2, not as a lone striker or winger. If Arshavin has to play centre forward, have another striker with him in a 4-4-2, don’t leave him as a lone striker againt two big centre backs!

    Having no confidence in the keeper is guaranteed to unsettle a defense, and having no proper centre forward for some games isn’t going to help confidence levels througout the team.

    Failing to address these issues won’t impress our more capable players, who must be considering their options, especially with the World Cup shop-window this summer.

    For all his virtues, Wenger doesn’t have a clue about defence or goalkeeping, so he needs to employ coaches in these specialities and actually listen to their advice, bot about tactics, team selection and player purchases. I’m sure Bob Wilson left the club because he was fed up of Wenger constantly ignoring his views on keepers. He hinted at this at the time but loves Arsenal too much to cause trouble. Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould should be coaching the defence and get mad Jens back to coach the keepers. I’m also tempted to say get DB10 back to coach attack, but that’s Wenger’s strong suit, alhtough the idea of Wenger becoming more of a “head coach” with this team of coaches under him does sound good to me.

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