Theo Walcott’s early Arsenal career was seriously blighted by injuries which carried on even up til last season, but now that he has matured, Arsene Wenger fully believes that he has learned to avoid the worst of the tackles that come his way, and his body is better equipped to recover when he takes a bad knock.
Theo was subject to some strong attention from the Stoke defenders on Saturday, but Wenger is pleased with the way he came through the game in the end. “There were some heated moments, I don’t think there was anything exceptional in the tackles. Theo Walcott got good treatment today, but I am very happy because the way he responded to it was with full commitment and desire to impose himself. That is where you see that Walcott has become a different player recently.”
Now that Wenger is utilising Walcott more as an out-and-out striker, he will be having to leap over more and more outstretched legs this season, but Wenger thinks he is ready to cope with it.
“He is 23 years old and there is always a change at that age,” Wenger said. “What people forget is that Theo does everything at 100mph, so every time you get hit it hurts you more than if you are slow.
“He plays at high pace, but he has learnt to escape sometimes and he imposes himself more. He uses his body better now.”
If Walcott carries on progressing the way he has this season, could he really emulate his hero Thierry Henry in the next few years?