On August 6th Arsène Wenger said this about Theo:
“Theo is intelligent, he analyses well what’s happening to him and he’s mentally very strong, and the way he practises, the way he works since the start of the season, I think I’m very positive that we can get a great season from him.”
That sentence was followed by an amazing outburst of insults thrown at both Wenger and Theo. If you needed any more proof that Le Prof had lost it finally, this was it.
Walcott who struggled last season after coming back from a long term injury and didn’t finding the rhythm when he got injured again was declared useless for once and for all. This is how it goes these days when a player is having a difficult moment. Instead of showing some support the player is ridiculed and declared deadwood.
Of course it was frustrating to see Theo struggle. But instead of shouting : “see, told yo uso he is rubbish and Always has been,” I still shouted “Theo” whenever he came on the field. Hoping that he finally would pick up at the height he had reached before.
I think on the lists that people made with “Players Wenger has to sell or give away” he featured a lot. I know for sure as I have seen dozens on Facebook and on the internet shouting to give him away. To West Ham or State Aid United (still not completely used to it Tony). We had to give him for free to them. As if getting a stadium for free wasn’t enough. No we had to give Theo to hem for free also. I think they were just State Aid United fans in disguise silently hoping to get him for free. After all… they get it all for free it seemed.
But Wenger didn’t see it that way. And he got abused for it. But that is maybe nothing new for some. And from the start of the season he played Walcott back in his old familiar position on the right wing. And the result is that Walcott now is our top scorer – at least for the moment. That is amazing turnaround of course. From “got to get rid of him” to top scorer in two months. I guess lots of people will be happy to forget the abuse they send in Theo’s direction by now. Or the abuse sent in Wenger’s direction.
Not only has Theo reached the level he had done before but this time you see something different. A player who is determined to make it. I think the main problem Theo has had was that whenever he was hitting a high level he got injured. I remember him getting injured playing for England. I remember him getting injured when we won against the tiny totts and he was more or less kicked off the field with two excessive tackles on his Achilles heel minutes before his knee gave way.
So the thing I fear most for Theo is that they will start to target him as they have done in the past. I hope that the refs will be up in arms to prevent this from happening. But I am not holding my breath.
If there is one thing that makes me believe that Theo himself might be better armed to prevent this it is that he seems to have bulked up over the past year. After his knee injury he seemed to be scared a bit at first. That was the impression I got. He stayed out of the battle for the ball if possible. Just trying to find space and be as far away from the defenders. But this has changed this season.
We now see a Theo that battles and fights for every ball no matter where they are on the pitch. The way he is teaming up with Bellerin on the right flank is amazing to see. If I had one thing that I didn’t like about Theo it was that he neglected his defensive duties a bit too much in the past. But now… I think he has made more fouls than Bellerin has made! Any stat man who can check this? Theo is no longer afraid to get stuck in. And he has made a few fouls that made me think: wait is this Theo? Better check on the replay… yes it is him.
Theo has changed from that soft football player into a harder player. A player that will make the foul when it is needed. I don’t think we will ever see Theo making dangerous rash challenges like Xhaka did last weekend but I wouldn’t completely say it would be impossible if he did at some time when it would be needed in the match. But then again Theo could use his speed to make up ground if he would find himself in such a position.
So let us hope that Theo stays injury free or at least doesn’t get a long term injury. But with the way he looks stronger he might be strong enough to avoid it. Maybe with all the personal problems he and his wife had with their child it may have been too much on his mind in the past. With those problems behind him he looks a man that has broken the chains of whatever prevented him from going from a boy to a man. As that is what I see now when I see Theo on the field. No longer that small looking frame with a player who was nice to anyone, even his opponents. Theo looks like a man now who will give you nothing for free.
I sure hope it will continue and thank god, Wenger was the man who maybe had seen the transition long before the rest of us did.
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