“6-1? No thanks. We’ll stick with 5-2.” And…”Theo, let’s work this thing out”
This is a blog about Theo but it may take the scenic route to get there. We will get to Theo soon enough, my pretties.
And before we get started I would like to thank FromRussiaWithLvova @AFCphotobank for all photos I “borrowed.” Make sure you follow that Twitter. It will bring you more twitter Gooner joy than maybe any other single account.
Drinking with great gusto.
I got up early to watch the match. Just before the game started I cracked open some cans and drank them with gusto. Gusto is ironically a very slow drinker. His mother, who is the only one who still calls him Gustavo, says he always drank slowly ever since he was a baby. After the game, I fell asleep, so Gusto then started drinking with great gusto. Great Gusto, his mate, is half of a circus high-wire act. His partner in the high-wire act was always pretty debonair. Pretty Deb O’Nair always dressed with panache. Pa Nash was a touch creepy and always insisted on watching Deb dress. It was getting a little crowded generally, since she also dressed with a certain Jenna Sekwah, which is ironic since Jenna was always certain but rarely correct. And I’m skipping over General Lee, because there are far too many generals already involved in sex scandals at the moment.
Anyway, avoid drinking with gusto. Take my advice and drink with alacrity instead.
6-1? No thanks. We’ll stick with 5-2.
I’m pretty sure Arsenal could have won that match 6-1 and more, you know. God knows we spurned a host of chances. But 6-1 wasn’t the plan. The plan was to win the match 5-2. Again. To inflict maximum psychological damage. To show we can do it at will. Because THAT demonstrates complete mastery, not only over the Spuds, but over the referee, over time, luck, the elements, in fact, the whole effing universe. 6-1 just isn’t very “catchy.” But 5-2, that’s got a certain ring to it. And it works for the 5pur2 thing too. And we have all those thousands of man-hours put into all our photoshopping, we have all the jokes ready, we have all the collateral ready to go:
No, we didn’t want 6-1. Where is the skill in that? Where is the mastery? That’s just banging in as many goals as you can, while trying to concede as few as possible. Any team can do that..
Arsene barked out the orders. “5-2 exactement.”
It seemed like the Spuds had twigged us though. They didnt look like they could get that 2nd goal. And then a momentary lapse of concentration in the 70th minute saw Bale concede a goal into our net. 4-2 and we were all set-up to push on for 5-2. Now that’s a humiliating score line. More humiliating than 6-1. See you in March, 5pur2!
The Fuse Box.
There might be no better club to support than Arsenal if you want to understand what each position does. Watching Arsenal has been like trying to trouble-shoot a poorly marked fuse-box. You pull out each fuse to see what stops working, or which lights turn off.
You pull out one fuse and your wife shouts out that you’ve turned the TV off. You try another fuse and your daughter screams at you that she’s standing in darkness in the bathroom. You pull out yet another fuse and you hear the gimp in the basement complaining that “the Sodomizatron has stopped spinning.” It’s a trial-and-error process.
2011/12 is the season Arsenal decided to find out what happens when you play without fullbacks. Fusebox-style. It turns out that they don’t just defend. They don’t just attack. They weave and knit the defense, the midfield and the attack together all along their wing. We learned that saying Vermaelen or Koscielny can fill in for them only works for a little while. It’s just like sticking your finger in a dyke.
(Are you proud of me? I’m maturing. I just left that last innuendo go by. I treated it like a single entendre. But I can tell you it’s burning me. It’s burning me up.)
So now, we all “get” what fullbacks really do by way of the fuse-box technique. Along the way, we’ve tried this with every position, pretty much. We had the Centreback drought of 10/11; the Goalkeeper drought of take-your-pick-which season; the striker drought of 09/10; etc etc.
But that’s not what this blog is about. At least not exactly. This blog is about Theo. More about him in a few minutes.
Arsenal are offering to take requests for the 13/14 season. You name the position and we’ll play without it for half a season. Do you want to find out what happens with no CAMs? No problem. We will take a metal bar and whack them all on the legs à la Tonya Harding. Why would the club do that, you ask? I’m surprised you even have to ask. Why for Money of course! We’ll do pretty much anything to generate revenue at Arsenal. Sell a player? That’s nothing. We’ll whack a player, mate. All you’ve got to do is come up with a sponsor with spondoolicks and there’s a deal to be had. Indesit, you say? We’ll drop a washing machine on Cazorla’s legs. Renault? We’ll reverse over Jack’s legs in their latest SUV. Longleat Safari Park? We’ll release Rosicky into the lion’s enclosure and let him take his chances. (But I bet they don’t catch him. Quick turns and lightning fast over the first 5 yards.)
So eat shit, United! Here’s one area of the commercial revenues we’re miles ahead on. Those cold trophies of yours will never keep you warm at night, you losers!
Pulling Out Theo’s Fuse
But what of Theo? How does he fit into the fuse-box scenario? Well, poor old Theo has put up with a lot of shit over the years. Last year I felt like I was Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men after many of his games, defending his contribution against the “He’s great for 5 mins every 2 matches/He’s too inconsistent/Let me know when he can do it for 180 mins straight” brigade.
It always seemed harsh to me. He was 22 then. Now he’s 23. Still a kid who is still improving. Last year was his 1st full injury-free season. Wenger basically started him for every game because of what he brought to the team.
Those who could see room for improvement, fair enough. Those who thought he was a liability, I think you were seriously mistaken.
Theo used to spill the ball a lot. He still does. Who gives a shit? He’s a winger, not a goalkeeper. Its what he does when he doesn’t spill the ball that I care about.
You still hear the criticism about why he hasn’t got the basics sorted out. If you want a winger with his basics sorted out, I hear Downing might be available. But, personally, I want a winger who can rip the enemy a new one. Basics is what the other 10 players on the pitch are for, among other things.
I can’t imagine Guardiola saying, “We fear Theo Walcott the most because he has mastered the basics. He is terrifyingly solid. Only one winger terrifies us more than Walcott from your great country. James Milner. His basics are positively satanic. Last night I had a nightmare. I dreamt that your James Milner received the ball on the touch line and ran forward 5 yards before kicking the ball off Mascherano and into touch, winning a throw. I woke up in a cold sweat.”
Now, someone will say, “Can’t we have both in a winger?” Well, my friend, everything in life is a trade off. And no you can’t have everything. Not this time. What you would give up to get your basics is too important: to vP last year, and to Giroud & Co. this year
Last year our default plan of attack was to work through Theo’s wing. The same thing is happening again now that Theo is starting. And yet the goals are popping up from all over: BFG, OG, LP, SC and TW yesterday. WTF Szczesney???
via Mickey @Mickey_AFC:
That tosser in the 4th row who was moaning, groaning and sometimes booing? He didn’t “get” Theo. “Oi! Walcott! You’re shit. Jesus, did you see that. He’s only gone and given the ball awa…oh, hang on, yes, yes, go Theo, yes! Goallllll!!! ♬We love you Arsenal, we do!♬…. Oh Jesus, Walcott’s only gone and given the ball away again. Stupid twat. Get him off. Hah, the pratt has tripped. Hang on, he’s up! He’s still got the ball, he’s through, go on, go on, Theo…Goallllllllll!! ♬We love you Arsenal, we do♬…”
Perhaps the consistency issue was less Theo’s and more the tosser’s in the 4th row.
If an attacker has 6 dimensions: speed, finishing, crossing, touch, connecting play, and positioning, then perhaps Theo is somewhat 4.5 dimensional. But he is off the charts on a couple of those dimensions, and he’s working hard on the rest.
Here’s what Jack said about Theo after the game: “We all know what Theo brings to the team. He has got pace, he can go behind and his movement and timing of the runs is probably the best around.”
It seems to have taken the fuse-box method for ALL Arsenal fans to end up on the same page as the team and manager regarding Theo. We needed to live without Theo to realize we didn’t want to live without Theo. And to realize how much better he makes almost every other part of this team. It’s all very Buddhist, really.
I love Arsene. I love Theo. And I love money. I love all 3 of you guys. Now can’t you 3 just get together and work something out? Please?! I’m begging you for the sake of the kids i.e. me. Because in the end that’s what this is all about. Me.