Theo Walcott has drawn praise from Arsene Wenger after his goalscoring return to action, but the manager says it’s time for him to really press on in terms of his overall career.
With two goals in his last two starts, the Arsenal manager has extolled the virtues of the England man’s positioning, but also said that injuries have had too big an impact on him over the years.
While he’s never going to be the most skillful ball player you’ll ever see, Wenger says there are other qualities that set the former Southampton man apart.
“Theo’s first attribute is the quality of his reception,” he said. “It is absolutely exceptional, one of the best in the world, with the timing of his movement and where he goes.
“When I say quality of receptions, it’s the area where he will get the ball. In that, he is certainly top, top, top because he has the pace behind it as well.”
After a long spell out, Walcott hasn’t yet found consistency but the Frenchman believes that will come, and when it does he’s at the right age to really kick on in his football career.
“I think he is not completely there yet,” said Wenger. “It’s normal because he’s been out for a year but you can see week after week, he gets better.
“I think just before he was injured, he was the best Theo I have ever seen. He had a good balance between being physical and using his pace – and the quality of his finishing had improved tremendously.
“When he scored the goal on Sunday against Villa, you can see he’s a great finisher now. He had a lot of injuries. I think what he needs is to be a long time without injury. He is 25 now, and it’s the right age for him. It’s now that is decisive for his career.”
Another goal, or two, today against that lot would go some way to making that happen. Fingers crossed.