Theo, Theo, Theo! And he didn’t even score. He was sensational throughout and I didn’t need a goal from him to realise that.
Similar to his performance away to Leicester, he was a constant threat. stretching the opposition, giving Ozil a rapid target. The German’s understanding with Theo Walcott is growing every game and you can feel it boiling in every counter attack, every Arsenal blitz. There were many excellent performances; you could pull Alexis out, Ozil, Santi, but the Englishman continues to show the burning fire up front we’ve always moaned about. Without trying to sound like a broken record and be different for the sake of it, and in the wake of another Alexis master-class, Arsenal are reaping the rewards for trusting Theo up front.
The first goal came from some excellent work from Ramsey and Ozil. (Ramsey’s an odd one at the moment. I felt he had an effective game, tireless as always, and you sense that as soon as he gets that first goal, his gates will open like they did with Alexis.) You know Ozil will always find that pass, and Alexis Sanchez is the monster you want on the end of it. He dispatched wonderfully, sending hearts roaring. What was going on? We were witnessing modern Arsenal tear United apart. Could it be a five minute fluke?
Then came the second. One touch Wengerball, all the way through United’s lost midfield. Each pass measured to perfection. First, the flick from the truly great Sanchez, then Ozil’s inside pass to Theo who had the United defence in tatters. Theo kept his head, learnt from previous situations and found the better placed man: Mezut Ozil, coaxing the ball into the corner. Absolutely deserved. Ten minutes gone, everything Ozil touched turned to gold, Alexis was rampant, and Theo was exploding like a lightening storm.
Then came the third, killing them dead. Fittingly, another rocket from Sanchez. His goals from the edge of the box seem to eerily mirror each other. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a couple of jinks and turns and bang. Next thing we know he’s sliding away to the corner flag… again. Theo turned provider again, storming down the middle, stretching United all over the place, causing general mayhem. As soon he starts running, defenders have no choice but to drop back and track him. That left a huge hole down the left that Alexis promptly gobbled up. Suicide from United. Sensational from Arsenal. This wasn’t a single moment in the game, but many. Albeit, not all resulted in goals. But Theo Walcott’s frantic runs through the middle and down the channels caused United problems they could not solve. Mix that with the aforementioned Alexis, a player hitting extreme levels again, along with the majesty of Santi and Ozil, then if you are United you have a serious, relentless threat to cope with. Those players clicking together and playing for each other also allows Ramsey, an all-action-hero, to move around at will – leading to his golden chance, unfortunately squandered.
There’s no denying the contribution of Alexis in that win. He terrorised Darmian, scored two, very different crackers, and provided the grit and energy that the others feed off. On Sunday, Walcott showed the same fire. He was a focal point, different to Giroud, leading the line in the only way he could, and it was electric. It’s the only word for it, for him. That is Theo Walcott. Sometimes inconstant, but never in the way he used to be. He’s developed every year, and has showed more promise in these successive games up front than Giroud has for his three seasons. That’s not a hit out to the Frenchman. It’s the reality that Theo Walcott is Arsenal’s best striker, and has been for some time. Injury’s have continuously halted him, and you only really see what he’s capable of, as we are seeing now, when he’s fully fit and firing. Hungrier than ever, Theo is the driving force in Arsenal’s attack. Need evidence that he’s ready for that role up top? Better than any goal, his race back and double slide tackle was the best thing he’s done in an Arsenal shirt. That’s a hungry player, hungry to succeed.