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18th Sep 2016

Theo Walcott scored, but Mesut Ozil’s reaction to a misplaced pass sums up his entire Arsenal career

How the hell did he get the man of the match award?

Robert Redmond

Theo Walcott scored against 10-man Hull City in Arsenal’s 4-1 win.

The forward was played through on goal with a brilliant pass from Alex Iwobi and chipped it over the onrushing Eldin Jakupovic. Hull’s Harry Maguire got the last touch, but because the shot was going on-target, Walcott was credited with the goal, his 100th in professional football.

That alone appears to have been enough for Sky Sports to give Walcott, who made numerous basic errors in the game, their man of the match of the award, despite the excellent performances of Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez.

Walcott, and a lot of Arsenal fans, will be happy with the player’s output, but an incident earlier in the game is arguably a truer reflection of the player, and even his career for the Gunners.

Laurent Koscielny collects the ball off Petr Cech, and begins a move for Arsenal…


The French defender plays a pass into Mesut Ozil, who is glancing over his left shoulder to see where Hector Bellerin is…


Ozil turns away from David Meyler…



And plays a pass into Bellerin…


The right-back plays a clever pass to Walcott, or it seemed like a clever pass. The England forward will soon prove that it is difficult to describe any pass to him as clever…


Walcott has the freedom of the pitch, but the touch of a cinder block and clearly hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll do when he actually gets the ball…


He has slowed down Arsenal’s attack, but he can still salvage something if he can just get his head up and spot Alexis Sanchez 10 yards away. (He’s the one in the red jersey, Theo).






Ozil’s reaction arguably sums up the exasperation so many feel watching Walcott play for the past ten years.

The German midfielder raised his hands in disbelief at what he just witnessed. How can a professional footballer, for one of the richest clubs in the world, with world class players all around him, make such a mess of an attack?

It’s clear he didn’t have any idea to do with the ball when he received it. His first-touch resembled something you’d see in an over-40s Sunday league game, and his pass was embarrassing.

Good footballers at any level – whether it’s the Premier League or five-a-side with your mates – are always aware of their surroundings and always, always play with their head up.

Look at the difference between Ozil before he receives the ball and Walcott, who is hunched over, looking for pennies on the ground.


That was just a taste of a typical Walcott performance – rushed shots, misplaced passes and crosses than ended up as goal-kicks or throw-ins. The forward/winger’s goal merely served as a glimpse into the player he could’ve become.

Walcott has been a professional footballer for 11 years, and with Arsenal for 10 years. Yet, he still can’t get his head up when he receives the ball. If he wasn’t lightening quick, what level of football would the 27-year-old be playing at?

Would he even be playing football? The player admitted he fell into football when he was 10-years-old, (a late stage for a professional footballer) and excelled due to his pace.

Chris Waddle once said Walcott lacked a “football brain.”

“He’s had a long time at Arsenal, he’s playing with fantastic players, a lot of young players around his age group. He’s never nailed his shirt at Arsenal. I’ve got nothing against the lad. I just think it’s no surprise for me he’s not on the plane. I look and I just think he doesn’t seem to understand the game.”

That quote is from before the 2010 World Cup, when Walcott was left out of England’s squad for the tournament, but it could be from any point over the past few years.

Nothing Walcott has done since then, certainly not a goal against a newly-promoted team with 10 players and a dubious man of the match award, has proved Waddle wrong.

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