Arsene Wenger has paid homage to Theo Walcott’s efficiency and stressed that despite having been at Arsenal since 2006, the player is still ahead of schedule in his on-field development.
Yet to be struck down by the niggly injuries which have so affected his consistency in the past, the 22-year-old winger has made a marked contribution in attack this term laying on goal after goal for captain Robin van Persie.
Reflecting on the player’s improvement ahead of last night’s game with Borussia Dortmund, Wenger told the official matchday programme:
“You can see he is becoming more efficient – in his final ball, in his dribbling, in his passing, in his decision-making. He’s scoring goals too. People might be surprised, but he’s still only 22-years-old.
“The expectation level is so high for him. He is already at the level where people really start their careers, and he already has international experience. He’s developing very well.”
The boss isn’t the only one impressed with the Southampton Academy graduate’s recent progress. Having repeatedly been the beneficiary of Walcott’s pace and precise crossing over the course of the last twelve months Robin van Persie also had warm words of encouragement.
“I believe our understanding has really kicked-off in this calendar year – we had a good connection before that too but were both a bit unlucky with injuries.
“Now, we’re both fit and at a level we want. I’ve always liked Theo and rated him very highly, but I feel he’s stepping up his game another level at the moment. Now he is delivering that final cross consistently – although it’s important to remember that a cross is not solely about the guy delivering the ball or the person on the end of it.
“It’s about the movement of the striker and the quality of the cross – both players are equally responsible for the success of the move, and I think it’s a vital thing to stress because people sometimes criticise crosses without looking at the striker’s involvement.
“At the moment, it’s working well from both sides and hopefully that connection will continue.”
The only shadow hanging over both Walcott and Van Persie is the knowledge that both have yet to sign new deals at the club. Hopefully both will recognise the hard work put in by Arsenal in turning them into the players they are today when it comes to negotiating their futures.