Theo James Walcott, what were you thinking?
Five games into the oft-injured forward’s return from 11 months on the sidelines, Walcott is yet to score a goal or even lay on an assist, but he’s chirping up unnecessarily about Arsenal’s attacking options following their shock 2-0 win at Premier League champions Manchester City.
According to various media sources, Walcott told club website Arsenalplayer:
“When I came here, it was Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Thierry [Henry] and Jose Reyes – that’s some attacking force as well.
“I think this squad probably does beat it, but we need to prove it first.
“When we go and achieve a little bit more than winning the FA Cup, then I think we can stand up and say this is the best attacking line up we’ve ever had.”
Strong words indeed, but there’s very little evidence to back such talk up.
This graphic is rather kind to the current Arsenal crop, with two out-and-out strikers included in Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck, compared to just Thierry Henry from the ‘Invincibles’ quintet, while Walcott and Alexis Sanchez both tend to play further forward than Robert Pires and Freddie Ljunberg used to.
In spite of this, only the Chilean comes close to Henry’s record of 0.61 Arsenal goals per match, with 0.60 of his own, and it remains to be seen whether Alexis proves as sharp as the French legend long term. The smart money says he won’t.
The 2006 side ought to be handicapped by being lumped in with relative flop Jose Antonio Reyes, who signed on at Arsenal in a deal that could have been worth £17m to hometown club Sevilla, but left for less than half that money a few seasons later, having failed to establish himself in the side.
However, Reyes’ 23 in 110 appearances for the Gunners puts him just ahead of Santi Cazorla at 0.21 per match, compared to the former Malaga man’s 0.20, making him the least prolific of the ten players featured.
In fairness to Walcott, he did state that his current crowd haven’t yet emulated Henry and co, but with the 2006 group able to boast 41 major medals between them, compared to Arsenal 2015’s 11, the 25-year-old seems far too confident of his prediction coming to pass.
The seaside pleasures of Brighton await the Gunners in the next round of the FA Cup, with Arsene Wenger’s men available at 11/20 to beat the Seagulls and 7/1 to retain the trophy, although they’ll need many more trinkets to surpass the Invincibles.