A little over six years ago, Arsenal’s start to the season couldn’t have kicked off on a more convincing note, thanks to the opening day 6-1 thrashing of Everton at Goodison Park, hence laying down a marker (or so we thought) for the 2009/2010 Premier League campaign.
In summary, the Gunners’ remained inconsistent in the title race for long stretches in the season, with points dropped to rivals and ensuring that the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea picked up maximum points against Arsène’s side; a huge dent on the team’s aspirations, despite being served with productive, finesse performances from the team’s creative hub of Cesc Fabregas-Samir Nasri-RVP who ensured the club remained relevant in title discussions.
Roll on the first two months of the following campaign (2010/2011) and it became apparent that for the first time in a long while, Arsenal were trying to compete in back-to-back title races for the first time in a long while. However, once again at the crunch phase of the season, the reality of Matchday tension kicked in and was telling on the team, as they succumbed to back to back draws against Liverpool and Tottenham respectively, and then suffered a classic defeat away at Bolton few days later, ensuring the club’s title race had vanished with April, following a priceless seven points dropped.
A predictable end to the season again loomed and Arsenal lost the duo of Cesc and Nasri that summer, the latter to the team which eventually won the following season’s Premier League title.
Now, the essence of going down this memory lane is to outline the fact that in back to back seasons (2009/2010 & 2010/2011) trying to compete for the Premier League title, the core at that time, somewhat lacked the belief to have a crack at the title for a third season (in 2011/2012), which would have suited the core, especially with the hindsight of Arsenal finally producing a 30-goals-a-season striker in Robin Van Persie.
Also being to reflect on with the continuous aid of hindsight, is the fact that Theo Walcott followed up his steady progress of season’s past with a more productive spell in the final third, alongside the red-hot RVP.
Now here’s the crux of the matter, which points out that as we are now witnessing a similar partnership evolving between the red-hot Alexis Sanchez and Theo. Much like the ex-Arsenal flying Dutchman at the start of the 2009/1010 campaign, Alexis has been moved to CF, after productive spells behind and on either side of the main striker.
It is also worth noting that it took Arsenal’s ex-no.10 sometime to find his range of balance in that position, and the same can be said about Alexis in the first month of the season.
The Chilean now looks unplayable at the moment and must be relishing the prospect of becoming Arsenal’s new focal point, for a team which has been starved of a skillful, pacy, energetic and clinical CF.
For Theo, not only does this remind him of his potent contributions in 2011/2012, he perhaps also has a clearer picture of how he could’ve adapted to a pairing with someone who possesses more qualities of Thierry Henry, than himself. The Englishman has often spoken of a piece of similar clinical style to the legendary French man, but pales in comparison to Henry’s staggering technical ability.
With Alexis Sanchez however, Walcott now plays alongside a more rounded striker who is never shy of cutting into his favourite right foot from the left hand side, taking on an avalanche of players, dribbling with consummate ease and skipping challenges, dragging centre-backs out of position, spinning away from his marker with his back to goal, dishing in delicious through balls and crosses, sensing costly mistakes from the opposition, producing moments of brilliance and letting fly from long and close range.
In summary, Theo is reliving the chance to act as a foil for his strike partner, but this time act as a genuine goalscorer than a provider, not least because his previous supporting cast have nothing on his current mates, with arguably Arsenal’s best set of number 10s surrounding the 27-year old English International, even as he bids to finally participate in a World Cup, 10 years after witnessing one only as a promising teenager, from the sidelines.
The making of Walcott’ rise to goalscoring prominence in 2011/2012 didn’t prove to become a worthy reason why Arsenal could match the Manchester clubs in the title race that year, for many reasons but with five years having flown by, but he now finds himself in a team capable of going shoulder to shoulder with United and hot on the heels of City.