Thursday, September 11, 2008

Young Theo

Has little Theo Walcott finally come into his own? For years, he's been hailed as the "New Thierry Henry", a title he's struggled to cope with until very recently. The temptation to compare the mercurial winger turned forward turned winger to his former mentor was at times irresistable given their remarkably similar qualities. Each has a certain turn of pace normally accessible only to those lining up beside Usain Bolt, they both have a tendency to drift out wide when playing centre forward, and are both in possession of the "did that really just happen??" factor.

However, as similar as the two players may appear, they are not the same player, a fact Walcott is especially keen to address. Even after taking on the Arsenal legend's number 14 jersey, scoring an Henry-esque goal, and celebrating in an eerily similar fashion, Walcott stated: "People always say it is like Thierry.. It is nice to be compared to him, of course, but I want to be my own player."

And it seems he now is. While Henry thrives on drifting out wide from a central position, he struggles with playing as a winger from the kick-off. On the other side of the coin, Walcott has shown excellent versatility in playing as an out-and-out right midfielder, as evidenced by yesterday's brilliant performance against a strong Croatia side, where he became England's youngest ever player to score a hat trick in World Cup qualifying. All his goals came as a right midfielder, a feat even Monsieur Thierry Henry would be proud of.

Theo showed glimpses of brilliance early in his career, popping up from time to time with a good performance in his early Arsenal days. However, he was accused of being inconsistent after a series of spotty performances. Recently, his consistency has improved, and he's put in some top quality performances, hinting that he may be close to fulfilling his ultimate potential. It may be that Walcott's time has come.

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