It might be a bit of a stretch to say that Theo Walcott is a secret weapon for Arsenal, as the England international flyer has already showed us some great form in pre-season to back up the brilliant way he signed off at the end of last season, with a stunning hat-trick in our final Premier League game and the FA cup final opener at Wembley against Aston Villa.
But if Arsene Wenger does throw the versatile forward into the starting XI of the Gunners on Monday, it will come as a surprise to some, including the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, as it would be his first competitive start this season.
This has led some to suggest that things are strained between Wenger and Walcott but I really do not see it that way. Not only have the player and the club just agreed a bumper new long term contract extension, and without too much wrangling at that, but the Frenchman has been talking very warmly to Arsenal Player about Theo´s development since joining Arsenal almost a decade ago.
Wenger said, “He has become very mature, he has gone through difficult periods so he is a very strong man,” the manager told Arsenal Player.
“He is a man today, when he arrived here he was a boy, a little boy who discovered a world where he did not know anything about it.
“Of course he had to go through bad injuries and disappointments and I believe he is a man today, a man who knows what he wants and has been faithful to our club. It was a great signing.”
So why has the prof not been playing his protege much, both at the start of this campaign and for much of the last one? One reason, especially after Walcott was just back from injury, is to make sure that his comeback is not spoiled. Secondly though, I think Wenger is holding him back to get Theo really fired up, because it worked so well at the end of last season.
Also, I think that he may see him as a big game player, when his pace and counter attacking threat can be more of use in a tighter game instead of being wasted against a deep lying defence. The fact he started against Chelsea in the Community Shield would seem to support this theory, so are Liverpool set to get our not-so-secret weapon unleashed on them?