Archive for April 16th, 2010

Gunnerblog meets Theo Walcott: Pace, Progress, and *that* Birthday Cake

1,235 comments April 16th, 2010

Last Sunday, just a few hundred yards from the Emirates Stadium, I caught up with Theo Walcott to fire a few of your questions at him.  We discussed his speed, his injuries, and his love of “castles and dragons”. Here’s the film – I’ve carefully removed myself from shot to protect your eyes from my gorgon-esque appearance:

Unfortunately, Caledonian Road was hit by little-publicised tornado conditions, which means not all of the tape was usable. Distressingly for you, that means you’ll now have to take my word for the following. Many of you wanted to ask Theo about how his injury problems have affected him, and he did admit that his shoulder surgery (particularly his first one) had slowed him somewhat. However, he’s now sprinting freely, and in fact it’s since having the surgery that he’s broken Thierry Henry’s club sprint record. And the even better news? He thinks he can get faster.

The only player to rival him for pace at Arsenal is Gael Clichy, and it’s training against him that helps keep Theo’s sprinting sharp.

He remains adamant that he’s first and foremost a striker, though he’s happy to play on the wing. That prompted me to ask – what motivates him? Is it the joy of scoring goals, wanting to please the crowd, or the honour of pulling on an international jersey? Those all have their value, but Theo is clear about what he’ll be remembered for: trophies. Ryan Giggs is the model for that, and if Theo is to match the Welshman’s haul then we need to end our drought – and soon. Hopefully he’ll be able to help us do that, starting next season (barring miracles in this one).

Thanks go to Theo and Nike for making this happen.  In fact, Nike have been in such splendidly generous form that they’ve given me an iPod touch, replete with their new Master Speed app.  And because a) I love you all, and b) I already have a battered but beloved iPhone, that iPod can now be yours.

All you have to do is answer the following question:

Theo Walcott joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2006 – but which Arsenal winger went in the opposite direction back in 1999?

Answers to by 10pm UK-time Monday – the winner will be announced Tuesday.

In other news, Cesc Fabregas has been nominated for both the PFA Player’s Player and Young Player of the Year awards.  Interesting that they’ve had to cut the number of nominees to four as there just haven’t been that many stand-out players: the likes of Gerrard, Torres, and Lampard – all of whom are regular features in these lists – simply haven’t performed to the expected standard.

The ‘Young Player of the Year’ award also needs to be revised.  Football is different now – only the other day I suggested that Lionel Messi may be at his peak at 22.  When the likes of Fabregas and Rooney are dominating both categories at the age of 23/24 something isn’t right.  At 24, James Milner is over a year older than Cesc.  He is not a ‘young player’ – just a player who has taken longer than expected to fulfill his potential. There ought to be a revised cut-off – perhaps as young as 21. It should be given to players who wouldn’t ordinarily stand a chance in the main category, but have shown a lot of promise. Hart, Ramsey, Evans, Rodwell. Those sorts of names.

As we speak Arsene Wenger is delivering his pre-Wigan press conference.  More on that tomorrow, but what we do know is that Thomas Vermaelen won’t play again this season.  It’s been an outstanding year from him, and while we’re on awards, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make the PFA Team of the Year.

Good luck in the competition, and I’ll be back with more tomorrow.  Oh, and in case you can’t remember the cake I’m talking about, here it is in all it’s glory.

Theo's birthday cake

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