Arsenal’s victory over Swansea at the weekend continued an impressive run of form that sees them undefeated in any competition since the opening day defeat to Liverpool.
The Gunners’ 3-2 victory over the Welsh side was their sixth league victory in a row and leaves them level on points with the stuttering Manchester City, at the top of the Premier League table.
Confidence is high in all areas of the Arsenal squad, with new signings Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi proving the worth alongside the seasoned Arsenal veterans such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
There is one name, however, that has featured above the rest this term so far – Theo Walcott. The 27-year-old has been in irresistible form this season, with the striker’s brace on Saturday seeing him leapfrog Sanchez as the club’s top Premier League scorer with five goals to date.
Having spent the last few seasons blighted with injuries and confidence issues, Walcott looked destined to be a player who failed to deliver on the hype and potential he carried when he arrived from Southampton back in 2006.
Having suffered perhaps his worst campaign for Arsenal last season, there was nothing to suggest a reversal of the decline fans have witnessed in recent years. That was until the European Championships in the summer.
Failing to be selected for the England squad appears to be the catalyst for a spectacular return to form for the England international. The disappointment of missing out on Euro 2016 saw Walcott return for Arsenal’s pre-season with a renewed ambition and focus. Eight games into the league season, and it has become clear that the striker is back to his best.
While he scored twice at the weekend, he could and possibly should have bagged two more. He has now scored as many league goals as he did in the entirety of last season’s campaign.
With six shots on goal and a 92% pass accuracy, it is evident that Walcott is full of confidence. However, it is the statistic that shows he was among the top three for ground covered that shows the true commitment and focus he has returned with this season.
As he continues to silence the long line of critics that has been growing over the last few seasons, Walcott has become the surprise package of Arsène Wenger’s title push this term. The pre-season was all about the dependence on Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Nobody expected Walcott to shine.
Now arguably Arsenal’s most important player, he is well and truly delivering, at last, on the expectations of fans. Should he remain injury free, this could well be his best season yet and, who knows, see him help Arsenal to an elusive fourth Premier League title.
On current form, not many could deny either player or club.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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