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Is It Finally, Finally Theo Walcott’s Time?

Theo Walcott can’t help Sven-Goran Eriksson’s strange decision to include him in England’s 2006 FIFA World Cup squad. The cruciate ligament rupture he suffered in 2014, resulting in a 280-day spell on the sideline, was equally unavoidable.

While Walcott’s progress from young phenom to seasoned veteran has been hindered by an assortment of shoulder, abdominal and groin injuries, it’s often forgotten that he’s only 27 years old. 

Walcott’s inability to become a Thierry Henry-esque striker since arriving at Arsenal 11 years ago has been a constant source of derision for the sometimes forward, sometimes winger.

His highest Premier League goal total of 14 during the 2012-13 season doesn’t exactly paint him as the out-and-out striker that he claims to be. Beyond his ability to regularly remain available for selection due to injuries, many have questioned his ability for the role.

Blessed with torrid pace and great balance to go along with it, the main questions surrounding Walcott’s fit as striker concern his ‘footballing brain’. Basically, he’s been often criticized for failing to make the right decisions in the final third. 

His movement as a striker has also been questioned. Yes, he’s blistering when it comes to moving in a straight line, but his lateral movement and ability to find space off the ball is sometimes nonexistent.

The 2016-17 version of Walcott looks an entirely different animal. Apparently bolstered by Roy Hodgson’s decision to leave him off England’s doomed Euro 2016 campaign, Walcott has scored three goals in six Premier League matches.

In Wednesday’s Champions League encounter with FC Basel, Walcott was on another level entirely. He made it four goals in three games with these two efforts:

What does the rest of the season have in store for Walcott? The main question marks surround his ability to stay fit. Should he continue to stay available, his form makes it impossible for Olivier Giroud or Lucas Perez to take his place.

This could well be Walcott’s ‘break through season’ — it just took him 12 years.

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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