11 years ago today, on January 20, 2006, a young 16 year old joined Arsenal Football Club from Southampton. That youngster, one of first “next Thierry Henrys,” if not the very first, came to the Gunners with a large price tag and even larger expectations. While the next Henry he was not, Theo Walcott has been a mainstay in the Arsenal squad for over a decade. 364 appearances, 96 goals, and 64 assists later, Walcott has entrenched himself in Arsenal history.
To celebrate, we asked The Short Fuse staff to name their favorite Theo Walcott memory. Happy Anniversary, Theo!
Thomas Wachtel: I have a lot of favorite Theo Walcott moments, because Theo Walcott’s one of my favorite Arsenal players. But my clear favorite among favorites comes from the famous 5-2 comeback against Tottenham in 2012. Theo played like absolute garbage early on – like Arsenal as a team did – but both player and side mounted a comeback. It was already 3-2 when Walcott’s first goal came, but his brace sealed one of my favorite Arsenal wins of the past decade or so, and the second goal led to one of my favorite calls of all time, from Martin Tyler: “And Tottenham do not know what hit them! Well I can tell you, it’s Theo Walcott!"
fbj0: My favorite Theo Walcott memory is my first real Theo Walcott memory, his debut goal against Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. As an admirer of young talent from Day One of my Arsenal fandom, which began in the 2006-07 season, I thoroughly enjoyed the Carling Cup, Arsène Wenger’s use of youth in the campaign, and his loyalty and belief in said youth to deploy those players in the final. I mean, look at the respective lineups from that match! Anyways, Theo’s first goal was breathtaking, inspiring, and hopeful. He collected the ball with great skill off a cleared corner, found Abou Diaby well just outside the box, made a run forward, controlled the ball perfectly, and fired home a delightful, Henry-esque curler by opening up his body from the left side of goal into the top right corner past current Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech. Theo has had better and ultimately more important moments, but none will ever outshine the first for me.
Ted Harwood: Most of the good ones have been taken, but I do remember a goal that Theo scored...probably three or four years ago now? it was a pretty classic Theo goal, put through on the right, he just smashed home at the far post, only this time, he was so precise in his finishing that the ball actually hit the twine where it meets the post and broke the twine and went through the side of the goal. This caused a bit of confusion, but the goal counted. I'm sorry I don't remember who this was against, but for some reason, this is the moment that sticks out for me right now.
AlsoNamedPhil: Theo Walcott will likely go down in many people's minds as a failed talent. Coming into Arsenal as a highly talented teen, a combination of injuries and poor timing have sucked a lot of life out his career. He's never got the run for England he should have and he's repeatedly seen the striker position be snatched away from him at Arsenal. But for fans, he should and likely will go down as being an excellent Cup specialist, being involved in some of the bigger games in recent Arsenal history. From his first goal in the 2006 Carling Cup Final to his thundering volley opening the scoring in the 2015 FA Cup final, he has given most of his memorable performances with everything on the line, often giving Arsenal the victory if not the chance for one. But my favourite game was among the wildest Arsenal games I've seen. The 2012 Capital One Cup against Reading couldn't have started worse, seeing Arsenal give up four goals to the Championship side. It was nightmarish. Walcott snagged a late goal in the first half to give them a glimmer of hope. Giroud and Koscielny dragged the team within one but with seconds left, it looked over. Then Walcott poked home a weakish effort right at the death that nearly made a case for goal line technology and had Reading wondering where the final whistle was. Into extra time, Reading and Arsenal traded goals and it looked like the penalties were upon them. Instead, in the final minute, a low shot from Arshavin popped out to the waiting Walcott who hammered it home for the winner. (Chamakh would add another, which was his second!) It was a predatory and speedy performance and everything you expected Walcott would become. If not for those pesky injuries.
Honorable Mention (selections by fbj0): His hat-trick and two assist performance in 7-3 Newcastle; his proclivity for Chumbawumba goals (Chelsea in 2012, last goal in Newcastle 7-3); his run and assist that should have been the deciding contribution in the 2007/08 Champions League quarterfinal against Liverpool