Statistically there are none more effective than Theo Walcott at 24 and the proof is here


I have written many blogs on Theo Walcott and I am not alone in that, but this one is different as it is reflective.  Eight years ago he was automatically a fan favourite from day one, our sole Englishman in an array of multi-national talent. Why is thus so significant? Well because he was 16, ill-advisedly taken to a World Cup, before playing for Arsenal and had a ludicrous weight of expectation on his young shoulders. His and Arsenal’s detractors criticized him when he played for not delivering and Arsenal for not playing him enough.

Arsenal fans have on occasion become frustrated with his lack of consistency, even during a match – The first 5-2 v Spurs of course is the perfect example of this. However 2 things have prompted me to do a little research, well a lot actually and this blog is the outcome. Firstly when writing about Oxlade-Chamberlain and the expectation we have of him led me to compare him with both Gascoigne and Walcott. With this came the realization that most creative players are not hitting their peak until 23/24. Secondly I read and enjoyed the superb season reflective on Theo Walcott, by Michael Jeffares on Gunners Town, which very clearly illustrated how little plaudits he had gained for his substantial contribution to our season.

I strive for originality on this site both in guests and in my own work which is increasingly hard. Just occasionally however my research excites me, when I know a theory that I had in my head has been borne out by the facts. Well today is one of those so I hope you are pleasantly surprised too by what I have uncovered about our speedy right-sided attacker/winger.

Theo's has come a long way in 8 years at AFC
Theo’s has come a long way in 8 years at AFC


It was born out of Michael’s article in which he noticed that despite ending the season with 21 goals and 14 assists for Arsenal, no one was mentioning Theo in dispatches. In the Gunners Town awards the readers voted him 5th in the Player of the Season poll. This is staggering in the scheme of things and whilst accepting that Cazorla deserves top plaudits are we guilty of taking Theo for granted? I think perhaps we were so relieved that he had signed the contract attention that we moved on and underappreciated his contribution, particularly in the final few weeks. Well I hope when you see the fruits of my research you will sit back, take stock and think again.

I decided to explore where Walcott’s contribution might sit at 24 when compared to his peers in the Premier League and indeed in some instances his rivals for his national team shirt. To make this a relevant analysis however I sought only to compare each players achievements up until the season in which they turned 24. I am also only looking at individuals who play wide in a 442 , 433 or in our case a 4231.


Wide Attacker Age on club debut Age now Goals to 24 Assists to 24 Combined Key Contributions
T Walcott 16 24 62 52 114
Ashley Young 18 27 27 30 57
Samir Nasri 17 26 26 39 43
Juan Mata 18 25 55 57 112
A Valencia 20 27 14 19 33
David Silva 19 27 39 48 87
Santi Cazorla 20 28 27 25 52
Nani 20 27 33 35 68
A Johnson 17 25 36 21 57
S Downing 17 28 21 40 61
A Lennon 16 26 21 53 74
J Milner 16 27 35 43 78
G Bale # 16 23 53 40 93


# Bale is only 23

Well I hope that impresses you as much as it did me.  We forget just how much Theo Walcott has contributed for Arsenal at an age where many players have not even begun to reach their peak.

At 24 the likes of Cazorla and Silva were regulars at the top end of La Liga and their contributions in goals and assist are some way behind Theo’s.

Nani at 24 had played in 3 Premier League title wining sides and his figures are half that of Walcott’s at the same age.

Valencia had barely made a consistent impact at Wigan!

2 years ago England decided not to take Walcott to the World Cup preferring the likes of Milner and Lennon?? What did Capello want from his wide players? Not goals and assists obviously!

What about the man we all love to hate?  Samir Nasri, 33 goals and 39 assists in France and for the Arsenal by the time he hit 24. About 60% of what Theo has achieved.

Only Bale and Mata have made similarly telling impacts at the top level at such a young age as Theo Walcott.

Waddle in early 20s - Ne Footballing brain bit a footballers haircut
Waddle in early 20s – Ne Footballing brain bit a footballers haircut

The even better news is that the is an obvious trend with Theo and that is one of a marked improvement in recent years – Yes Chris Waddle you bitter man his football brain is very evidently present and absorbing experience and know how like a sponge. I wish I could research the assists from back then but I can tell you that in 190 appearances for Newcastle before he left for Spurs, he has only managed 52 goals and he was 25 when he transferred. That Chris would be 11 less than Theo ‘no football brain’ Walcott has at a year younger?


Season Walcott Arsenal Goals Walcott Arsenal Assists
2007/8 6 5
2008/9 5 3
2009/10 4 3
2010/11 13 11
2011/12 9 9
2012/13 21 15


So we Gooners should be proud of the player Walcott has become and be confident in the knowledge that he is only going to improve with age. Of course we now know that as he is getting better he will be doing into for the foreseeable future in London N5.

Who knows what the figures could have been also had he not missed some many long spells through injury. If we keep the same formation I genuinely hope he stays out wide, instinctively cutting in when appropriate and using his pace to beat the full back more often.

I would like to offer just one final piece of research to complete the article, to give some conclusive context before I wrap up on this one.  I thought it might be interesting to see where the wide players of the best sides in Europe were at 24. Would Bayern and Barcelona be fair?


Wide Player Goals at 24 Assists at 24 Total key contributions
Pedro 58 18 76
Sanchez 51 38 89
Ribery 19 18 37
Robben 57 32 89


Can’t really argue with that can we?

Ribery had barely seen his career kick into gear at 24 and look what he has achieved subsequently We all remember Robben terrorizing defences whilst winning 2 titles with Cheslea when he was 22/23 and even his stats are well behind Theo’s!

Pedro and Sanchez are only 25 and 24 respectively playing consistently for the best side in Europe, many would argue until this year and they can’t match Theo for goals or assists.

So there you have it in black and white, or mostly in red and while, Theo Walcott has few peers when it comes to what he ahs contributed to his club’s cause at such a young age. We for get because he has been with us for so long that he is only 24 and if he continues at the rate he is and stay with us for the length of his contract he will almost certainly be in the top 3 or 4 scorers in our history.

I will finish with a video of every goal and assist from last season as a reminder of what out Theo delivered in our cause:

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  1. To make it a more fair comparison ou should have compared how many games each player had played up until they were 24. Taking into account the injury troubles of Theo this would probably swing the figures even more in his favour.

  2. Great article. One or two additions a group of players more accustomed to ewch other and key players a year closer to their peak.

    Come on the gunners

  3. hi there, nice post but what about appearances? theo has had 200+ premier league appearance i guess..but anyhow, im proud of you Theo, hope you will deliver more this coming season…we need strong characters on the field, and at 24, i hope Theo will deliver more.


  4. It’s an interesting analysis, but I do think you should note that Walcott is essentially a forward, and the players you’re comparing him to are really attacking midfielders. It doesn’t detract significantly from what are very impressive stats from Theo, but I think Hleb provides an excellent example of a player who was brilliant for us, but didn’t have very good stats in terms of goals and assists. He contributed enourmously to the team with his movement and ball retention and the passes hemade that didn’t necessarily contribute directly to goals, but did contribute nonetheless. Some of the players in your first table would also fall in that category to some extent, and that side to Walcott’s game is perhaps not so strong, because he isn’t really a midfielder. Again, the stats you provide for Theo are very impressive on their own, but I’m not sure the comparisons are all totally fair.

      1. Yeah but players like Mata and Cazorla are more midfielders who know how to link the play etc. Walcott is a finisher. Don’t know why this needs explaining tbh. You could see Walcott playing as the most advanced player in a 4-4-2 but could you really see Mata or Cazorla doing that? Equally I think it would take an extremely specialised 4-4-2 for us to play walcott as an RM in a 4-4-2, but Mata or Cazorla could do that role easily…

      2. I tend to agree but at present TW is being played wide in a 442 for England and he played there in 2007/8 and 2008/9 for Arsenal.

        Also am not saying they are all identical type players but they all have played wide or do play wide and would be expected to create and score goals.

        I am not presenting a theory here more a conversation piece and bot have I succeeded in that.

      3. @goonerdave66
        I haven’t been watching England much recently really but to be fair he was awful when he played RM for Arsenal in the early days – simply wasn’t ready!

        Indeed you haves succeeded presented an interesting conversation piece but I think your main point is that Theo has done a lot better than a lot of people give him credit for and I think you are absolutely right on that.

  5. Spot on. Theo is well on his way to being world class whether the haters like it or not. A less interrupted season and he could easily be a 30 goal winger/forward. Them’s best of the best numbers.

  6. Nice write up!… But u faild to look @ d fact walct is vry poor during build up in d final 3rd. Theo has aa vry bad 1st touch, cnt shield d ball, nd make bad decisions…. Most of d playas u compared theo with, create more chance frm open play dan walcot… Assist is 1 tin, creatin chances is anoda, theo is nt intellgnt,!…. But still wif all said we av to appreciate is lil effort

    1. Mate I can barely understand what you are saying and you question Theo’s intelligence? From what I can understand I disagree totally

  7. great articlle would seem to give us more hope than the club seem to offer. can’t wait for new arrivals and put even better figures together, well done. dupiaza

  8. Theo will be even better next season,pray he works on his finishing and ball control.people clamoring for new players,well I’m sure ii will not be popular here.keep this team that ended the season brilliantly add one or two players,make them start the season like they ended it ,then I’m sure we will silent doubters.COYG

    1. Couldn’t agree more, we have a quality first 11 so we need to add strength in depth and we’ll be competing at the top.




    1. I assume you cannot read. Bale is amazing you muppet. I have noted he is not 24 yet not that he is 23Rd you idiot. This is an intelligent article and a sensible blogsite. Gareth Bale is a super play but funnily enough this was not about him. Apology accepted!

    2. Apart from the fact that you seem to have totally misinterpreted what some of the article actually said, you appear to think that writing in CAPITALS adds some sort of authority and credence to the nonsense you spout.

  10. You’re article suggests that Theo is becoming a world class player??

    You must be living in is the name of the game and Theo cannot play the game well.

    1. Are you deranged? Anybody who scores 21 goals, in a season of top flight football, from a wide position can play football very well. His rate of improvement also indicates that he will be a world class player in the coming years.

    2. i still maintain that chicha cant play football. doesnt stop him from being one of the worlds most dangerous strikers. nistelrooy was mostly a finisher, still world class. my point is, u only have to be world class at a few things to be world class. messi: mostly dribbler and finisher yet the best player on the planet. theres a long list. theo may never learn to dribble but once he starts getting 30 goals and 30 assists, lets see if we can call him average.

  11. Theo beats his peers hands down! Even if yo compare him with all EPL wingers of the same age group. Problem with us Gooners , we never appreciate a good thing until we lose it. We’re quick to trash our own players!!!

  12. Good article on Theo I always know that Theo will do better and your analysies have shown what a good player he is.Next season will better if Wenger will allow him to roam the pitch like CR7 that will mean more goals and more assist for him with the addtional of two or three quality signing.

  13. To be honest I didn’t read the full article..there are so many holes in it I couldn’t be bothered.

  14. DD, there are too many holes in your brain. Hence the lack of intelligent response. This is a serious article written for people who use their brain which you obviously don’t as you couldn’t even finish the article. Best you take your spud sized brain to where the tots belong.

  15. Your paragraph starting ,who knows .sums Theo up for me.He has great pace meets def,one on one and goes all negative.Ends up two on one ,loses it or has to get rid.Its great to see him coast past defs.get behind and deliver .Frustratingly he seems reluctant to do it. Anyway great post once again. Come on Theo lets do it ….

  16. It is very obvious that Theo has a deadly weapon in his arsenal which is speed. His first touch, decision making and shot accuracy has let him down in the past. Given the fact that footballers generally begin to peak from 24 years, and Theo is only 24 now, then hopes are high for him. If he improves from his last year’s statistics, then he is surely heading for a world class status. I am glad that we did not lose him during the contract stand off.

  17. Superb statistical comparison – it’s awe-inspiring to compare him to this group and particularly guys like Silva and Pedro (who is the Sanchez player?) in particular, who combines a striker’s instinct with superb positional play across the forward third, and great ball retention, despite having a relatively small frame like Theo’s. These are the main areas that need work in his game. When he begins to impact a contest for 90 minutes and not just in the moments he is scoring or assisting, we will have a player who is truly worthy of Thierry’s hallowed shirt.

    Thanks for the work that went into this goonerdave and don’t allow those commenters who can’t read(!) or add anything to the conversation to deter you from providing great content, when so many sites are content to spout useless transfer window bunga bunga during the off-season!

  18. Staggering how Theo is regarded as inconsistent, yet has a massive impact on games and seasons? So essentially when he’s in form, he’s unplayable. If his final ball was just a bit more consistent, everyone would rave about him. Not just positive gooners

  19. Theo has been really good this season, not only does he score and assist alot but he’s pretty much always a threat, other seasons he could disappear but that barely happens anymore. One of the best wingers in the league imo.

  20. The people on here that think Theo isa good all-round player need to get their heads examined. There are upsides to his game but there are a long list of downsides.

  21. I totally agree with Davi above in his comments. In aaddition I will like to say that silva’s, Cazorla’s and Nani’s contribution to their respective teams are in no way behind Walcott’s. you have to consider that Theo had 8 yrs to do it for us while the other guys had 4 and 5 yrs to do it for their teams. If you consider average goals and assists per year, you will realize these 3 guys did well like walcott or even slightly better. I’m pointing this out because the artticle paints a picture of Theo being more effective than these other guys at 24 which isn’t exactly so. Theo no doubt has improved and is improving and he’s becoming more matured in his play and I look forward to next season where I believe he’s going to shine even brigther if he stays fit for the whole season. I believe his goals and assists will be even more especially in the league if Wenger plays him in every single league game so long as he is fit, something I desire so much, afterall the dutch traitor played every league game and champions league bar one in his breakthrough season. Theo has become one of our star players and he should be treated as such!

    1. Article would have been 2 long but Theo did not play consistently until 18/19 and has had 3 long injury lay offs. Hence his game time no more than those guys particularly as many appearances off the bench. Silva has over 300 club games and Mata about 25 less than Theo who had 280 odd.

    2. Just to clarify, I wasn’t saying Walcott stats aren’t impressive, they really are, I’m just saying the comparison is unfair on the other players, most of whom are less specialised and probably more rounded players than Theo. Theo is really the type of player who is more likely to be played in behind the defence, either into a crossing or finishing position, than he is to play a defence-splitting pass or devastating deep cross, which some of the others are well capable of.

  22. Pleasantly suprising stats. Although Theo does seem to be a pretty frustrating player at times these stats support evidence that he is underestimated and taken for granted at times (myself included). I have noticed he’s really matured the season past. No longer is he the kid of the team. He now takes responsibility. Hopefully he can now push on and win the acknowledgments and silverware he deserves.

  23. Well done goonerdave66 for doing the research and providing football (and especially Arsenal) fans with some interesting info so we can look at this debate afresh. It certainly made me think twice!

    However, I do take some issue with your statistics. For example, you could also look at the “Combined Key Contributions” AVERAGE PER SEASON since club debut. Whilst Walcott still scores highly (14.3) he falls below Mata (18.7), Silva (17.4) and Nani (17).

    I could go on to critique your analysis further, but I feel that would be missing the point. Suffice to say there are many, many ways to cut statistics. I don’t want to go as far as saying that you can prove anything with stats, but you do have to use them responsibly and be open to other interpretations of the raw facts at hand.

    All I’m saying is that stats never tell the full story (especially ones that only focus on goals and assists), and besides they are by their very nature selective. Research on this topic should have to take quantitative AND qualitative factors into account too.

    I think most Arsenal fans are fully aware that Walcott contributed highly to goals and assists this season. Therefore, the fact that they still question his quality DESPITE these contributions tells a bigger story.

    I’m not saying he’s a bad player, but he does have his weaknesses. The argument that he doesn’t have a football brain does have merit IMO. Assists do NOT equate to creativity and I’m not convinced there is an adequate statistical way of measuring creativity that can compare to simply watching a player regularly. You also have to consider decision making – again, this is something difficult to measure empirically. Sometimes, for example, a good decision is to put the ball in the danger area, even if it doesn’t result in an assist. And furthermore, being an attacking force isn’t just about creativity, it’s about taking the game to the opposition and driving your own team forward. How many times has Walcott gone missing in games, unable to make any impact?

    Arsenal are a possession team and this system requires that its attacking players have a high level of creativity and other attacking attributes to break down and penetrate the opponents who, more often than not, are set up very defensively to nullify our tactics. Walcott cannot offer the team the top level of quality that the system requires to take the team to the next level (i.e. winning trophies), and perhaps the reason we are frustrated by him is because hardly anyone else in the team can offer these qualities either, probably only Carzorla and to a some extent Wilshere too. I would imagine that if we had another creative player in midfield in addition to Carzorla and Wilshere we could appreciate Walcott’s abilities more. He would be free to be more of a target man (even if he is played out wide), whilst the more creative players do all the tika-taka stuff.

    That being said, I still don’t rate him that highly and I don’t think he will improve much more unless he has better players around him. However, thanks to your post, I won’t be taking him for granted as readily.

  24. Well, looking at the facts I just cannot disagree. TW annoyed me quite often, guess I’m not alone here, but maybe your article has helped to shed a better light.

  25. Firstly, good read. My only issue with Theo thus far is he is consistently inconsistent. When he’s ‘On it’ he is almost unplayable, however when he isn’t he quite simply looks awful. Consistency though I guess comes with age and maturity and I would certainly rather have him with us than against us. I think the only reason there is so much debate around his ability is solely attributable to that lack of consistency. The stats clearly show a trend of consistent improvement though which leads me to the opinion that he will get there and will be a great asset for us over the next 2 or 3 years and hopefully beyond.

  26. Nice article…….Theos biggest weakness/ drawback/ failure….. is that he is a GUNNER. Then why else would every one sing the Bale song and ignore equally (I would say better) impressive Theo. We have a gem in our hands, hopefully he will shine for us in the future.

    I hate Theo when he goes missing in games, and his urge to play central. As I see him, he is more potent on the wings as a proper winger. But then, thats my puny brain working overtime.

  27. Lollll the best part of this article is DD’s stupidity and how Dave and bleeeehhh replied, I just can’t stop laughing…mnow I have forgotten what I was gonna say. ROTFL!!! DD to be honest you should take your life, you’d be more useful dead

  28. Cheers for the write-up. I will admit up front that Walcott is the only active player whose shirt number I would wear. I think he’s a brilliant player, despite his many detractors, and your analysis supports my belief.

    The only other metric I might suggest adding is number of minutes played, as Theo’s effectiveness throughout 90 minutes has improved significantly in the past season. His third goal against Newcastle, at least for me, should serve as proof of that.

    There are three Gunners listed in the CIES Football Observatory annual review, posted this week by sportingintelligence, which features the 60 most valuable players of the summer. Theo is ranked 29th, behind Cazorla at 19th, but well above Wilshere who is ranked 51st. And Higuaín? He’s ranked 38th.

  29. Superb article.. Yes I have underestimated Theo Walcott before reading this article and now I have fresh hopes of Walcott for the upcoming season..

  30. Go troll another site, or read an article about your precious bale in your spurs blogs dd. Your negative rant isnt appreciated here, and ask your mom to teach you some manners while your at it.

  31. Very well written and researched article, well done.

    I hate to nit pick, but stasiticaly seen the average person has less then two legs. This is by no means trying to default your sterling research, however statistics can only give you a fraction of a view.

    If you just leave it all down to the numbers. then Theo looks amazing, world class even, but surely your eyes tell you a different story? Don’t get me wrong, I like the lad and believe that if he applies himself he can fufill the potential that AW obviously sees in him. However I don’t think I’ve ever known a player who divides opinion so much (even my own).

    He can go from sublime to utter pants as quick as he can race down the wing. He’ll score a hatrick on Wednesday and be completly anonymous, to the point of hiding while the game completly passes him by on Saturday, he can delight and frustrate in equal measures, in that regard he is a total enigma. I think his own words; “consistant in patches” probably best sums him up.

    Still, when all’s said and done, 21 goals and 14 assists is a more then decent return and if he improves on that next season then I’ll be more then happy to turn a blind eye to his shortcommings. Good luck for next term Theo!!



  32. @goonerdave66
    Let me start by saying i think walcott will come good. I think he is a big game player.Not many players are. Therefore he has the potential to be one of the best in the world. For me though his stats show one one thing. Arsenal are unbalanced. The threat of the team doesnt come from many angles, moments and choices.Long gone are the days of pires and lungberg interchanging with viera,henry,cole bergkamp. etc. Who did the traitor love last year? walcott. Because he fed him chances which became goals which in turn fed the traitors ego. Nani in a title winning side getting those assists can be viewed as more of an achievement because the responsibility in the team is balanced so just to establish your self is an achievement.Who was united most productive players in those winning sides.? I hope walcott becomes the great player i think he will be but he needs to be more brave and less and not be scared to fail.

  33. I don’t think the intent of the article was to show that Walcott is a world beater but that he has made a larger contribution to the Arsenal (as judged by goals and assists related to age over time) than is generally realized. I believe the article has achieved that. It also puts a positive spin on these stats by hopefully projecting a continued improvement over the upcoming years. We all know that Walcott could be and hopefully will be more consistent but as player used a great deal out wide, he is relatively dependent on service from the midfield (as we don’t normally play a long ball game) and our midfield has changed a great deal with our primary playmakers changing coming and going. This has to have affected his stats.

    Additionally, teams play deep and wide because of Theo’s speed. This should open up avenues for attacking midfielders to cut up the middle or take long range shots. We do playing up the middle well, we don’t, in my opinion, take enough shots from outside of the box. Theo opens up the middle for shots and because they are not taken, the defenses can sit back instead of advancing to shut down the shooters. This has the effect of making the play of the wide players that more difficult.

  34. wallcott is better at full pace and explosive moments like liverpool this season because he doesnt have to use his second nature. The liverpool goal this season or when he beats the last line of defence. Personally i think he feels he has failed when he dribbles but not perfectly.If the ball is a bit behind him when dribbling He will stop and just pass it rather than use it as a style. Henry used to run a bit ahead of the ball when running or he would have a bad touch but he would use it to his advantage and recreate the momentum. He will come good when he becomes at ease with himself. Maturity. see 1 min 25. usually if wallcott was to get to henrys position on the edge of the box he would think about who to pass it to because in his mind the move has broken down. He will get it. Hopefully we have wallcott and chamberlain as our anelka and henry

  35. Nice article, however it will be fair if the contribution per game was a measuring tool.
    Yes Theo walcott is very good in scoring and assisting. He equally has his fair share of criticism in playmaking department as many others have mentioned above me (because of the comparisons you made in the table with other playmakers). I will be happy to have a player at afc who is making telling contributions consistently and Theo fits the bill perfectly. What is even more encouraging is that he can only improve from his past seasons.
    Well done Dave!

  36. i have never doubted Theo,remember theguy is young his display against Newcastle proved why Professor Wenger Theo with the Jersey No.14 won by King Henry.

  37. I think all the World Class players have a sense of ineveitability along with them, they are so consistent with their skills, that you know whats gonna happen when they have the ball in their zone. I think this is the only thing that Theo is missing right now. Top post though. If we have a creative center forward, it will go very well in the formation. Two of the best finishers on the wing, and Giroud as the pivot. Looks promising for the future.

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