Theo Walcott by his own admission knew that this season would be a make-or-break campaign for his career.
Speculation was rife that Walcott would leave the Gunners this summer after being left out of Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad.
The 27-year-old should, in theory, be entering his peak years and he admitted this week that he held talks with Arsene Wenger in the summer about his role in the side.
There was pressure on Walcott even before a ball had been kicked this season but the forward’s responded in emphatic fashion so far this term with three goals in six Premier League matches.
But it’s Walcott’s efforts off the ball that have repaired his reputation with Gooners so far this term and the stats show he’s really upped his game out of possession.
Theo Walcott: Has already made more tackles (12) in 6 PL apps this season as he managed in the last 2 seasons combined (11) pic.twitter.com/VyALWZYacm
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 26, 2016
Walcott’s made 12 tackles in the league so far this term, making on average two per match. Incredibly, that’s more than the winger managed throughout the entirety of the last two seasons.
The winger made 42 appearances over those two campaigns, meaning there’s been a huge improvement in the opening weeks of this season.
It was imminent that Walcott will have to become a more consistent performer, both for Arsenal and England this season, if he is to resurrect a stagnating career. Fitness, though, will be key. He has made a good start to his eleventh season at the Emirates, but the same old frustrations are still far too prevalent in his game.
But Walcott has put his desire to play centre-forward to the side and is now happy to play across the front-line in an effort to help Arsenal.
“I can play anywhere across the line,” he said. “But I wanted to go back to what I know best and the manager’s put so much faith in me by playing me on the right-hand side, but I need to keep on repaying that faith.
“I’m going to keep working really hard because there’s competition for places when you’re at such a top club like Arsenal. I’m just making sure that I want it more and that’s what it comes down to.”
The England international also believes his upturn in form is down to a change in attitude that should have happened “a few years ago”.