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Arsenal 2009-2010: Everyone Injured
Posted 28 August 2009 - 11:31 PM
come on you gunners!
Posted 29 August 2009 - 01:49 PM
We missed Cesc, plain and simple. The side we fielded today can beat the Portsmouths of the world, but when we face big clubs, we need our captain. Arsene would've been better off resting Cesc last weekend and saving him for today. I know winning every match is important, but you can win matches resting players. You can lose matches due to injury. This was a primary example.
What makes it worse is that we're on international break, so we don't get to bounce back for another two weeks. Oh and we're playing City. It doesn't get any easier.
Tactically, we need to get more men in the box. What's the point of making a cross if there's only one run in? You have to make a perfect cross to score a goal. It's 1 on 5. Also, playing Arshavin on a cross on the far post could be a huge weapon and could free up the middle more. Arsenal should've gotten a penalty the one time we got the ball to Arshavin on a cross. This will help open up the middle and help Arsenal score more goals.
I'd also like to add that Wenger getting sent off was ridiculous (on his part). Furthermore, him saying we were the better side is inaccurate. Man U won the game, but I don't think they proved anything. They scored on an own goal and a penalty. I was happy with how the back four played, I think Almunia should have been more assertive on the Giggs free kick, and that PK was inevitable on a 50-50 ball like that. It's the midfield and strikers who I think could have done more. Van Persie seems to be getting more comfortable in the middle, I really want to see him more involved. Without Cesc, Arshavin had to carry up the ball a lot more, and him taking on 4 defenders wasn't very efficient. There was no space for him to operate. Starting Eboue was a mistake.
Edited by sachmoney, 29 August 2009 - 06:51 PM.
Posted 31 August 2009 - 06:34 AM
IMO, Denilson was just as responsible, if not more for that silly foul that led to the Giggs free kick. Diaby played solidly besides that although he was clumsy at times. Not his best performance, but certainly not his worst.
Now that I've had more time to reflect on this match, I'd like to rephrase what I said. Man U outworked us in the second half and earned the result. While they had many opportunities to score in the second half, they only came close to scoring may be one or two times. Arsenal had the much better chances through out the game that we couldn't convert.
Arshavin not getting a penalty on that cut back in the box was absolutely ridiculous. Mike Dean is infamous for calling penalties and giving cards, but yet he misses a blatant pull down/hand ball. I know that the whole Eduardo saga cast Arsenal in a negative light, but do your fucking job. Don't not call something because you don't want to be the next "deceived" referee. This failure on the referee's part really gets my blood boiling. Arshavin's goal minutes later provided momentary vindication, but the result in itself was great affected by Dean's choking on his whistle.
Mike Dean, you are the worst referee in the premiership. You do not deserve to referee key games like Tottenham-Arsenal or Manchester United-Tottenham. You should be refereeing non-League games.
As far as Wenger goes, I don't know exactly what went on. I know he's getting an apology, but I still feel he acted childishly. I was just as frustrated as he was, but he made a specatacle out of himself. It was unnecessary.
Like I don't think Diaby played that poorly, but I know he didn't have his best game. I certainly think he can be a weapon for Arsenal because of his height. Getting into tactics, Arsenal is probably at its best with Diaby and the central striker crashing the box on crosses with the weakside striker gathering long crosses (Arshavin or Eduardo). How are you supposed to convert a cross when there's one defender pressuring the box and you only have one target in the box? Furthermore, the opposing team has the two tall central defenders, the weakside fullback, a midfielder, AND the goalie in the area. It's important to get more pressure in the box. Arsenal is great at having the fullback streaking the wings, but probably one of the worst teams in the premiership at converting from crosses. This IMO is something that Arsene needs to really get the club to work on. Cesc and Van Persie are probably the only two players who can get a good cross in, but they are central players and will only have the opportunity to do so on set plays. With lower percentage crosses, you need to get the most out of them as possible. You need to get more people in the box.
In the big scheme of things, I think United got what was important (the result), but proved absolutely nothing to me. They needed a penalty and an own goal to get the result against an Arsenal team that was lacking the soul of the club. Most of their opportunities were opened up from the fact that Arsenal had to press once they faced the deficit. They didn't exploit an Arsenal back four that critics still question. In the short term, I'm incredibly frustrated with what happened. However, I feel strongly that we will see Arsenal bounce back stronger.
I really wish Van Persie had scored because he really deserves a goal. I thought he had his best game and that he's starting to adjust to playing the central role. He is combining the best parts of his game, as a pivot player, a ball holder for the wing strikers, and running along a long ball. I think he was one of the players that shined.
Arshavin, of course, is an absolute stud. I think he disappeared for great periods of time, but I blame that mostly on the central midfielders holding onto the ball too long. Also, he had to often attack/drive towards the net by himself. He's good going one on one with players, but when he's going on one on threes, it's a little excessive. That rocket was absolutely brilliant, and I hope he starts taking more shots like that. You can't just score from the box, and Arsenal needs more players shooting from outside the box (well ones with the quality of Arshavin).
The back four was solid. Vermaelen, in my opinion, has been the best acquisition in the premiership. He has solidified the back four and already seems to be taking up a leadership role. Watching him on Wednesday night, I saw him yelling at his teammates to push up and was really taking charge. Some players might not feel comfortable taking such a big role when they arrive at a new team, but Vermaelen has jumped in head first. He and Gallas have been incredibly solid and they did not deserve the two goals conceded. I thought Vermaelen did a great job against Rooney.
The negatives are Eboue's dive, Almunia's lack of tentativeness, Denilson's foul conceding, and a lack of fitness that seemed to show late in the match.
I truly believe if Cesc or Rosicky were healthy, we'd be talking about at least a draw right now. Unfortunately, these injuries have compounded and severely weakened the squad. Arsene would do a great duty were he to buy a central midfielder like Rafael Van der Vaart, but I highly highly doubt that that occurs.
Posted 31 August 2009 - 02:04 PM
This Arsenal squad can't sit back for over half the game against MFU at their building and hope to win 1-0, they don't have the players or the style to do that. They do have the players to attack and keep the pressure on the other team, and succeed that way. But they still play scared and panic. Veteran leadership is sorely needed.
Vieria would've been perfect for this team, because he's a veteran leader who knows how to win games like that. If they don't want him, then they need to bring in someone else like that who can lead the team and stop the fear and panic from taking over, who will prod his teammates to keep their aggressiveness and poise when something bad happens. They still don't have anyone who can do that. Van Persie tried to do it, he pulled Diaby aside after the own goal and talked to him. But then a minute later, Diaby still goofed up a golden chance. It's no slight to Van Persie, at least he tried. But more veteran leadership and mental toughness is needed IMO.
The transfer window is about to close, and we've still only traded Adebayor, Toure and Senderos for Vermaelen. Vermaelen's been a very good pickup, but by himself, it's not enough. We're still two injuries from the horrible Sylvestre starting in central defense, even in a huge season-defining game. It happened last year, and it's stunning that it could still happen again this year.
It's great that Wenger believes in his team, but it's bad that he seems to be ignoring their weaknesses, especially when it shouldn't cost much to bring in another decent central defender and a veteran defensive midfielder who can give the squad the leadership, toughness and balls they are lacking.
I get the awful feeling that he isn't going to add anyone else, and the team's weaknesses won't be addressed yet again.
Posted 31 August 2009 - 03:40 PM
Edited by kid splinter, 31 August 2009 - 03:41 PM.
Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:30 AM
We definitely stalled out once we took the lead.
I don't expect Arsene to get a deal done today either. Yes, I expect him to make some last minute bids, but we're not really close to signing anyone, so I don't expect anything of note happening today. As I've said, I don't want Chamakh, I want someone who can provide cover for Cesc (Van der Vaart) and someone who will provide depth for Vermaelen/Gallas/Song. Like Gray said, they're an injury away from Silvestre being the centreback, and while he's okay in very small doses (Carling Cup?), a club like Arsenal can't field someone like that in league and Europe. I hope Arsene doesn't think that the fact that our forwards have struggled to score is a sign that we need another forward. We lost to Man U because of our midfield. We need someone industrious whose work rate will inspire the rest of the club. Unfortunately, the player who best fit this role was let go last season on free transfer.
Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:27 AM
Croatian FA President Agrees With You
Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:17 PM
Arsenal have three days to appeal against the punishment for the Brazilian-born Croatian international, UEFA said in a statement.
Eduardo went down in the Celtic game after poking the ball past goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who dived at his feet but appeared to make little or no contact with the striker.
Eduardo, who spent a year out of the game after suffering a badly broken leg in February 2008, converted the penalty himself to put Arsenal 1-0 ahead and 3-0 up on aggregate, effectively killing off Celtic's hopes of saving the tie.
The English side eventually won 3-1 for a 5-1 aggregate win.
The decision to take action against Eduardo infuriated Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who described it as disgraceful and accused UEFA of launching a witch hunt.
Eduardo will miss Arsenal's first two Group H matches away at Standard Liege on September 16 and at home to Olympiakos on September 29.
Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:12 PM
I will be veeeeeeery curious to see if Uefa shows consistency on this in any way shape or form. They've set some uncomfortable precedents here:
- a two game ban for "deceiving the referee". What happens if the ref sees correctly what a player has done? Is it a yellow? a straight red? will there be a follow-up ban for a similar action? Is Eduardo's punishment because MMG missed it?
- if Eduardo is now found guilty of the charge, shouldn't they rescind Boruc's yellow? Where does it stop?
- they now have a very high-profile simulation case that they've pursued action on. How many like cases will they consider as the CL continues? Seems like they'd get at least one example each matchday, and I guarantee they don't pursue every one. Probably none.
Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:16 PM
Posted 01 September 2009 - 04:58 PM
Umm... no. The quotes are about the injuries, not Eduardo being the victim of a media smear campaign.
Besides, he's denying saying it, and a bloke who believes the FA employ Birmingham as hatchetmen ahead of non-crucial internationals is probably not someone you want on your side in a debate anyway.
Posted 02 September 2009 - 08:50 AM
This is my fear.
We have been deeply frustrated by the perfunctory and apparently arbitrary process that Uefa has followed in this instance. We believe it is imperative that Uefa’s explanation for its decision provides clear and comprehensive standards that will be consistently enforced. It is also critical that Uefa provides specific details of the processes it plans to adopt in reviewing all games under its jurisdiction.
The Reserves destroyed Birmingham 0-4 yesterday, including performances by Fran Merida and Armand Traore. Kyle Bartley captained the side. Giles Sanu, Craig Eastmound, and Sanchez Watt (x2) scored for the Gunners.
The Carling Cup match against West Brom has been set for September 22nd. There's a free video on the site with Arsene's thoughts on the squad.
Posted 06 September 2009 - 09:04 AM
The 22-year-old had been hoping for a permanent slot in the Gunners' extremely competitive back four following the departure of Kolo Toure over the summer.
But he quit the Swiss training camp before a friendly against Italy last month complaining of a revival in a recurrent knee pain.
Djourou hopes to regain fitness for a return to competitive football next March, in the hope of making it to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 if Switzerland qualify.
Switzerland are currently second in Group 2, level on 13 points with first-placed Greece whom they face in Basel on Saturday.
Posted 07 September 2009 - 01:48 PM
"I am comfortable here and [Arsenal manager] Arsène Wenger has helped me a lot and for that I will always respect him. I would like to win a major trophy again, but we will see."
Walcott will return soon
Posted 09 September 2009 - 09:13 PM
The 28-year-old, who has been out with hamstring and knee problems since January 2008, played for 56 minutes after starting for Ivan Hasek's side.
According to the Czech coach, Arsenal are likely to name Rosicky in the squad to face Manchester City on Saturday.
The midfielder was signed by Arsenal in 2006 from Borussia Dortmund.
The former Bundesliga star has made 61 appearances for the Gunners and has scored 13 goals.
Walcott Next Week
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is hoping to have fit-again Walcott in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Manchester City, but he may only be ready for the bench.
However, Wenger is hopeful that Walcott will be ready for next week’s trip to Standard Liege in Arsenal’s first Champions League Group match.
Walcott, 20, has yet to start for Arsenal this season after being troubled by a back injury.
Wenger was angry with England for taking Walcott to the Under-21 European Championship in the summer after a gruelling season and believes that has been at the root of his fitness problems this term.
The Gunners are also hoping to have captain Cesc Fabregas back for Saturday, while Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin will both be assessed after going away on international duty with knocks.
The pieces are coming together, or so it seems from watching internationals. I was perusing and checking up on all the Arsenal players:
Arshavin-While I'm sure Wenger was not happy with Arshavin back on the pitch for Russia, he provided some early magic setting up the first Russian goal. I hope it helps with his fitness because it seems that he has not been in very good match fitness thus far this season. This is a scary thought.
Bendtner-He scored on Saturday and added another goal in a draw with Albania. Hopefully, it carries over into the Eastlands this weekend with Wenger hopefully giving him the start up top.
Cesc-While Torres was busy missing the goal with every opportunity he got, Cesc made his own opportunity by stealing the ball, playing a nice one-two with David Silva, and slotting it into the corner of the net for Spain's first goal. He also assisted Santi Cazorla on the second goal by slipping the ball through two Estonian defenders. I look forward to the skipper having a similar impact on Saturday.
Clichy-On the bench, but did not play. Too bad Evra didn't get hurt. I mean that sincerely.
Eduardo-While Croatia got thumped, Eduardo did score. Not Eduardo's classiest goal, but a goal nonetheless and it must have been sweet to score against England.
Gallas-William played the entire 90 minutes. The goal was off a penalty conceded by the keeper who received a red.
Ramsey-Rambo played all 90 and assisted James Collins on his goal off a corner. It shows how much confidence the Welsh side has in him at his age that he's already taking corners.
Rosicky-Rosicky played 56 minutes in his return to action. I don't expect him to be fully match fit for Saturday, but I would love to see him play.
Sagna-Bacary played the entire 90 minutes.
Senderos-Phillippe did not feature.
Van Persie-Robin played 84 minutes before being substituted for Klaas Jan Huntelaar. I thought he played pretty well, but not spectacular. The Scots were defending pretty well, so there wasn't a lot of space for classic Robin moves. I hear he had a confrontation with Fletcher as well.
Surprisingly Vermaelen didn't play for the Belgians. I wonder what kind of line up Arsene will feature on Saturday. He has a lot of options.
Posted 09 September 2009 - 09:30 PM
I doubt it was that satisfying for him, since they were down 4-0 at the time.
Posted 10 September 2009 - 02:04 PM
Yeah probably not, probably not even some consolation. He got screwed on a non-penalty call when Glen Johnson essentially plowed over him as he went up for a header. That should've been awarded. Perhaps his "reputation" is already getting the best of him.
We need depth for Fabregas. Rosicky is not consistently healthy enough, though a great talent.
Arshavin out for City, Liege, and Wigan.
Rosicky might be in the squad.
Wenger has not seen Cesc and doesn't know how he's doing.
Walcott should be available next week.
Djourou is out 6-8 months.
Wenger weighs in on Chelsea
“If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reflex? It is to put the child into a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?
“If a player goes to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, it's all clean and he gets a good education. That's why I am very sharp on cases like that. We have to respect the rules that are in place. You have always to look if you make one decision, what kind of alternative there is. If your players cannot move to the best clubs, I believe they will not improve.
“What I'm fighting against, if you take for example Lens in this case, where did Lens find the player [Kakuta]? In a smaller club. Where did the smaller club take the player from? A smaller club? At the end of the day, to be a top-level player is to be with the best.
Wenger on Eduardo
“That [the opposition taunts] is not the worst, the worst is that now he is not given penalties when they are penalties. That is much worse. The one last night against England was a penalty.
“You want everybody to be treated fairly, and I do not believe he is treated fairly. There was a good opportunity to take a media campaign against many players, which the media did not do. You cannot give him the feeling that he has been treated fairly.”
Eduardo is suffering at the hands of opposition fans at the moment but he has plenty of support in the wider football word.
And Wenger has no doubt that the man who returned from the horrific injury he suffered at Birmingham last year can overcome this rather less painful obstacle.
“Any situation you face as a top-level player you have to deal with, and you can only do that by being mentally strong,” said the Frenchman.
“I do not believe it will affect his game. He is a player who has gone through much more difficult things than that.
“On the one side, a good way to deal with that is that he is in good health. This is a minor event compared to what he has gone through before.”
Posted 11 September 2009 - 07:38 PM
Posted 12 September 2009 - 10:34 AM
I've incredibly been sleeping through most of this game. Own goal? Why do we concede the worst goals in the Premiership? Glad that Rosicky made an immediate impact, assisting Robin van Persie. We need to score a second.
Edit: I am irate. No points in Manchester is absolutely unacceptable.
Edited by sachmoney, 12 September 2009 - 10:57 AM.
Posted 12 September 2009 - 10:36 AM
Posted 12 September 2009 - 10:43 AM
The jokes continues. 4-1
Edited by ElUno20, 12 September 2009 - 10:45 AM.
Posted 12 September 2009 - 12:42 PM
Arsenal is only one or two players from where they should be, and the type of player they need would not be expensive nor hard to acquire, but Wenger still hasn't brought in anyone with big game experience, toughness and leadership.
Posted 12 September 2009 - 01:24 PM
Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:51 PM
Great news considering we're without Arshavin due to injury. I assume Eduardo makes the start on Wednesday in this case.
Posted 14 September 2009 - 06:34 PM
“I certainly feel relieved now. I have had great support from my family, friends and of course everyone at the Club.
“Now I just want to forget about this and think about our match against Standard Liege on Wednesday. I was always prepared for the match in Belgium because I had good feeling and I always remained positive about the outcome. Now we have a final result, I can now look forward to helping the team on Wednesday night.
“All I remember of the incident is that as soon as I had possession of the ball I headed towards goal at full speed. I was very close to the Celtic keeper and felt contact on my foot and then lost my balance. I know perhaps more than anyone else that when you have contact at speed it can be dangerous.
“I just want to say that I’m a fair player. To score goals you must take your opportunities and I’m not the type of player who needs to be dishonest to score goals.”
Posted 15 September 2009 - 09:25 AM
"From Saturday we lost Robin van Persie with a knee problem but it is a question of days for him [until he is fit]. As for Denilson, I took him off on Saturday for a back problem. It is a question of days again for him."
Theo Walcott will not return for the group stage opener but Sanchez Watt has been named in the squad. The 18-year-old forward impressed at the Emirates Cup in August and could make his competitive debut on Wednesday.
Arsenal are still without Samir Nasri (leg), Andrey Arshavin (groin), Lukasz Fabianski, Johan Djourou (both knee) and Carlos Vela (ankle).
Edit: Watched the highlights for the first time. It was Fabregas's pass which led to the second goal. Furthermore, with the ref waving play on after Bendtner's foul, it seemed like the defense had already quit on Adebayor's goal, not that it would've made a difference. It was a perfect cross. It looked like Denilson was getting outmuscled, Diaby was trying to do too much. I say this for pretty much every game, but he probably should've started Eduardo.
Edited by sachmoney, 15 September 2009 - 10:06 AM.
Posted 15 September 2009 - 02:14 PM
Posted 16 September 2009 - 03:58 PM
Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:26 PM
Agreed, but I thought the penalty in the first half was a horrible call as well, so I feel like it was even. I'm very happy with the result considering 1. It's been a while 2. We were down 2-0 within 4 minutes. It was great to see them fight back.
With that said, I can't say anyone played particularly well. It was great to have Rosicky back. Bendtner belongs in the middle. At the same time, Arsenal missed Arshavin and Van Persie. I was hoping that Walcott would be ready for this match, but he wasn't. His pace could make a difference for this team as well. Arsenal are really lacking something right now. Thankfully, we get a few less difficult matches in the league that should help us get back on track.
Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:31 PM
Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:37 PM
Um, what about the non-call on Arshavin against United? Arsenal paid their debt for that dive already IMO.
Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:45 PM
And the bullshit on Rooney's penalty. But we've been getting fucked in Man U games long before the Eduardo situation.
Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:14 PM
Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:08 AM
I don't remember if the ball was deflected off the free kick, but if it was, then Song was definitely offsides (if it wasn't, he wasn't). On the third goal, there was a player offsides (I think it was Song again), but he didn't touch the ball. Now in that case, it's a judgment call as to whether he interfered with the goalie. He was inbetween the goalie and Eduardo, so the keeper might not have seen the ball head towards the net. However, it's hard for the officials to make an offsides call off a corner.
Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:31 AM
3 points is 3 points so I don't mind.
Posted 19 September 2009 - 10:12 AM
Eduardo scores. 3-0 Gunners. Beautiful.
Actually, looks like Eboue is getting credit for it. He got a boot on it?
Rosicky in for the first time this season at the Emirates. Huge roar from the crowd.
Edited by sachmoney, 19 September 2009 - 10:36 AM.
Posted 19 September 2009 - 11:10 AM
Posted 19 September 2009 - 12:11 PM
Posted 19 September 2009 - 10:08 PM
Yeah, it was good to see Cesc and Verm get on the score sheet, but the real good things for this club are that Eduardo and Rosicky are healthy and playing very good football. The more players of that level of class that are competing for places in the starting 11 the better. I can't wait for Theo, Vela, Nasri, Arshavin, and everyone else to be healthy. Arsenal has the most talented attack in the league. We should be able to show Europe how awesome we are this year.
Posted 20 September 2009 - 04:46 PM
Posted 21 September 2009 - 02:01 AM
As a little kid, I wasn't even interested in football. The first time I played I was nine and I volunteered to go in goal thinking it would be exciting to save penalties. In fact, it was really boring. Up until then football had just been having a kickaround in the playground at lunchtime. We used to pretend we were making our own Nike adverts; 10 years later, I made one for real.
My friend Adam gave me my first chance to play in an organised match, for Steventon, when I was 10. The team were one player short and I joined in. I had never played before, but I came on and scored a perfect hat-trick: header, left foot, right foot. At the time I didn't even know what that was. I can't explain how I did it; it just seemed to come naturally to me. I'll never forget that moment.
Don Walcott, dad That was the first time we ever watched Theo play a match. He scored a hat-trick and it was a big surprise. Newbury wanted to sign him after that, and I said I didn't even know he could play football.
Steve Taylor, AFC Newbury coach We had a six-a-side the following Sunday, and Theo came along. He was very raw, but showed so much potential. I remember saying to his dad: "Don, he'll play professional football one day". Don said, "You've got to be joking", but I meant it.
The thing that stood out about Theo was his unbelievable pace. He looked like an Olympic sprinter. He ran as fast with the ball as without it, which is quite an art. He knew where to run and the ball just seemed to stick to him; he was a joy to watch.
We signed him there and then and brought him along to play Hungerford. I said to the opposition: "We've got a Brazilian" – that was what we called Theo – and he went and scored a hat-trick in his very first game for us.
Theo Walcott I didn't really have a clue what football was about at that time. Dad had an old video of him playing for the RAF, doing this one skill he had – I call it the Don Walcott special – and he made me watch that a lot. Otherwise my biggest inspiration was Michael Owen, because he made football look easy.
When I was 11 I was invited to be a ballboy at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea played Liverpool. I was a Liverpool fan, so I was gutted that they lost 2-0. Afterwards, I was introduced to the players – I found it terrifying. I can remember walking into the dressing room and the first thing I saw was Zola's bum as he reached for his towel! I felt like a scared little pup, because there were so many people in one room. I got to meet Michael Owen, though, and we had our picture taken together. Six years later, at the World Cup in Germany, I brought out that photo and showed it to him. It was a funny moment.
Lynn Walcott, mum I realised Theo had a special talent when he was 13. I remember saying to Don: "He's going to make it", but Mr Negative here said: "No, we mustn't say that." People kept telling us he was special for his age. There was this term his coaches used: "the full package". There were lots of boys with skills, but the difference, we were told, was his character.
Andy Ritchie, youth coach at Southampton FC academy The first time I heard about Theo was when he trialled at Southampton. The U13s had just played Chelsea and we won 5-2. That was unusual; we rarely scored that many against Chelsea. Then my friend told me that this young lad called Theo Walcott had scored three. He hadn't even signed for us yet.
I've worked in football for 17 years at Crystal Palace, Charlton, Chelsea and Southampton and I've never met a boy like him, even at Chelsea where John Terry was in my youth team. As soon as I saw Theo play he just looked so natural. It's something you can't teach. Like that run he made against Liverpool in the Champions League; it was George Best all over – riding scything tackles, he just kept going. To have someone like that in your team as a coach… oh, you're very lucky.
Theo Walcott Playing youth football meant a lot of goals, and a lot of travelling. My dad drove me everywhere and we got through quite a few cars as a result. Once, on our way to Eastleigh to play Arsenal, we broke down and I was distraught because we were going to miss the start of the game. We had to call grandad to rescue us. After the World Cup I bought my dad a car to make up for all the ones that had blown up over the years.
In my second season at Southampton, aged 13, my dad bet me £100 I couldn't score 30 goals in one season. I was like, "Wow, that's a lot of money." The very last game we were playing Tottenham and I was on 28 goals. My dad was filming the game and as I scored my 29th you could hear him getting nervous about losing the bet. In the last five minutes, I won a penalty. My dad started mumbling on the tape: "If he scores this, he gets £100." Instead, I hit the bar.
Andy Ritchie He was 15 years old when it finally sunk in just how special he was. We were playing Arsenal in an FA Youth Cup game at St Mary's and Theo scored the winning goal with his weaker foot after an incredible first touch. To do that against Arsenal, against boys three years older, outpacing them, and in that stadium in front of a number of high-profile people… that was when I knew that he was different. It wasn't just about pace then – he had delivered on the biggest stage. It was then that I knew Southampton couldn't keep him.
Jake Thomson, best friend from Southampton When we first met at Southampton everyone knew he was going to play professionally, you could see he had that little something extra.
When we turned 16 we all moved into digs called the Lodge. That was a lot of fun – water fights and pillow fights, lads messing about. Theo shared a room with Gareth Bale and I was next door. He was training with the first team by then, but back at the Lodge he was just one of us. He called himself the "underwear bandit"; he put pants on his head, like a mask, and went in people's rooms and hit them with towels!
Theo Walcott It was only when I started playing for Southampton reserves, aged 15, that the thought of becoming a professional began to seem real. At 16, I moved into digs with the other players my age, and we had a great time. We had pillow fights – some people used to turn the pillow cases round so that you got hit with the zip, all those stupid things you do as a kid. Before Gareth Bale and I left we signed our names on the wall of our room.
Georges Prost, Southampton U17s For a coach, he was a wonderful lad to work with – he had such enthusiasm. English lads are always good in motivation and discipline, but Theo had one other advantage: technique. Whereas in France we have lads training every day, even at U13 level, in England they are not so technically aware; they are only doing two training sessions a week. Theo, however, was different because he always played up an age group. We did a lot of repetition – right foot, left foot, control, always working with the ball. I think playing above his age really helped him to develop very quickly.
Lynn Walcott The day that he signed for Arsenal we knew everything was going to change for the whole family. I remember that day: 20 January 2006. I was in Sainsbury's with my daughter and I got a call from Don. He said: "Quick, you've got to get to Hertfordshire now! It's going ahead, he's signing!" I whizzed out the shop. He was only 16 at the time; he wasn't even old enough to drive. The next thing we knew Theo was called up for the World Cup squad and we had journalists camping out in our village day and night, knocking on the door.
Jake Thomson All of a sudden, he was off to Arsenal. It was strange – I was used to seeing him every day, then he was gone. He came to say goodbye and someone said: "Oh you'll probably go to the World Cup." His dad was in the kitchen and said: "Don't be stupid!" When I heard he got the call-up I couldn't believe it.
Theo Walcott Moving to Arsenal was a big contrast, from running around with your mates to being serious. I had to grow up fast. I was really quiet, as you would be walking into the changing room with Thierry Henry, Robert Pirès and Freddie Ljungberg there. I was starstruck. On the pitch I also struggled to be myself. In a reserve game for Southampton, against Portsmouth, I had injured my shoulder when Linvoy Primus fell on my arm. Southampton said it was just a dead arm, but when I went to Arsenal it came up on the medical that I was going to have problems with both shoulders. It wasn't Linvoy's fault, it was just genetics. That first season at Arsenal I dislocated my shoulder in every game. Nobody knew at the time, but my shoulder kept popping in and out during matches; it was very painful and I couldn't play at my best. I had to hold it when I was running.
Don Walcott What I really admire about Theo is his attitude. The way he handled the World Cup situation, at 17, I don't think many people could do that. His view on life, his respect for other players, and how he conducts himself – I think that is all very important. He's had to be like that since he was 16, and that is quite something. And he's never changed. I'm not sure I would have been like that. It's a unique gift that will take him a long way in life.
David James, England team-mate There was an understanding from very early on that Theo had his head screwed on. He didn't play at the 2006 World Cup, but I saw him do some amazing things in training. I remember we had a little five-a-side, and I literally threw a ball at him and he volleyed it first time into the back of the net. I thought, "That's not bad."
Theo Walcott If I was quiet at Arsenal, I was even quieter with England. During that 2006 World Cup, I made a DVD diary. I filmed the fans as I was looking out from the team bus, and interviewed the players, but I felt more like a fan myself. I was just a little kid, and it was strange for me. When I watch it back now I see myself looking into the camera talking about whether I'll play. It was sad in the end, not getting the chance. I'll definitely do another diary for the World Cup next year, if I make it. Even now, with England, it can still be a bit daunting. I always sit next to David Beckham when we eat – my sister gets really jealous when I tell her. I'm there staring at his tattoos thinking, "Wow, they're fantastic." He definitely influenced me to get mine. David always looks after me; he's a really nice guy.
Steve Taylor I'm not at all surprised at how far he's got. If ever anyone criticised him, he always came back stronger, let his feet do the talking. He did the same thing for England, came back and scored a hat-trick against Croatia after all that criticism. That result was a big stepping stone for England.
David James Theo reminds me of Michael Owen. Michael never shouted the odds across the table; he always kept himself to himself. Theo is the same – even after the Croatia game, he went there, scored three goals and went home. There wasn't any change in him. The lads started calling him Lewis Hamilton – because he's quicker than Lewis's car. With all that, you could excuse a young player for being a bit big-headed, but he was exactly the same afterwards. A mature, quiet, sensible young lad – I genuinely like him.
Jake Thomson I always say the only thing that's changed about Theo is that his wallet's got bigger. He's a top guy, with a great family. I have never seen him as "Theo Walcott"; he's just my friend. We still mess about like kids. He's very mature when he needs to be, but around people who know him he's silly. When someone says something boring we shut our eyes and pretend to go to sleep.
Lynn Walcott I still get a kick out of walking behind Theo, and seeing people's faces turn. I never tire of that being really funny. I never worried about him being a footballer – how many people get paid to do something you love so much?
Andy Ritchie He's great with the supporters, he just has that human touch. He's a marketing man's dream, he is Beckhamesque in that respect – a great ambassador for the game of football.
Theo Walcott I'm still only 20, but I feel like I'm coming into my own now. There's a lot more for me to achieve with Arsenal, and England, but I don't think I'm seen as a kid any more, I'm more established. Remembering back to how I used to check the squad list every week at Arsenal, to see if my name was on it, now it feels good to know that I'm always there. Still, I sometimes check just to make sure. All those years ago, when I was 10 and planned out my life story, I predicted that England would win the World Cup. I don't think I was clever enough to write down the year it would happen, but it would be a dream come true if it was 2010, and I was a part of it. OSM
And Re Nasri: I strongly disagree that he's never fit in. The problem for him has been that he hasn't had consistency. Wenger deployed him on the right, one the left, and in the center. Last year was his first year playing in England. It's quite different from playing in France. He played well for stretches during the season, but he kept picking up knocks hear and there. Right now, Nasri is probably the second best midfield partner for Cesc behind Rosicky. He's got the creativity and technical prowess to partner with the skipper. That's just my take.
Edited by sachmoney, 21 September 2009 - 02:05 AM.
Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:16 PM
“Some experienced players will guide the team like Senderos and Silvestre. But overall it will be a very, very young team as usual.”
Excited to see the "little Mexican" back in action. Vela is a supremely talented player and I'm excited to see him get a chance to show his class. I don't know who will play tomorrow, but I'm hoping it looks something like this:
I really wish Lansbury or JET weren't on loan. I'd like to see Rhys Murphy and Francis Coquelin get a chance too. Barazite probably has earned a chance as well.
Posted 22 September 2009 - 10:43 AM
I want to see Bartley start, but I doubt that will happen given that Arsene will want Senderos and Silvestre to get some match time.
Posted 23 September 2009 - 12:25 AM