The Saints-academy graduate has had an excellent start to the season, since his return to the south-coast club, having been involved with the squad since their good run of form in the Premier League – which has seen them go six games unbeaten.
Nostalgia would be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Theo Walcott – the 31-year-old brought a good feel factor with him when re-signing for the club on transfer deadline day, that many consider to be his ‘home’.
Though born and raised in Compton, Berkshire – Walcott’s ties with Southampton run deep, and its easy to see from interviews how the wide-man is relishing the opportunity of playing for the club that gave him his first gig in playing professional football.
In terms of his statistics so far this season, it’s still early days to know exactly how well of an acquisition Walcott will prove to be – this being since he’s only started a handful of games as he was not able to play against parent club Everton in their 2-0 defeat to the Saints.
Though having started three games, and having assisted two goals, it’s easy to see why many Saints fans are excited about the return of the former wonder-kid. Other noticeable stats that Walcott has put up are his ‘shots per game (pg) at 2.3, key passes pg at 2, dribbles pg at 1.7 and fouled pg at 1.7’.
These are pretty reasonable stats, and show the attacking threat that the wide man possesses. In particular with his key passes at 2 pg, being the most of any player in the squad – the in form James Ward-Prowse being second best with 1.6 pg.
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He is also tied highest with Ryan Bertrand with fouled pg at the mentioned 1.7 – which given the positions of the pitch that Walcott is likely to be fouled, it gives Southampton a massive advantage due to the free-kick ability of the mentioned James Ward-Prowse.
Given his natural pace, it should be of no surprise that the 31-year-old has been utilised out-wide for two of the three games that he featured in so far – Walcott is also no stranger to playing up-top if needed as this is where he started his career; and given the injury to talisman Danny Ings, this is where Walcott started against Newcastle at home.
Though in said fixture, it was evident that when in possession of the ball, Walcott and Stuart Armstrong would utilise the flanks, in an attempt to stretch Newcastle’s defence – and a picture of his touches on the ball would best represent this. This is also how the Englishman set up the first goal for Che Adams, by winning the ball out-wide and playing it into the path of the eventual scorer from the side of the box.
Going forward, the expectation would be that the former-Arsenal man will continue to play out-wide as this seems to be his most natural fit. Mentioned above, Walcott has always possessed great natural pace that in turn is beneficial to getting in behind the defence to create good quality goal-scoring opportunities.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl likes to play with pace in attacking positions to one press the ball most effectively, or to break quick on the counter attack – to which Walcott is perfect for both scenarios in which case.
Given his start to this current campaign, and the way that he fits naturally into the playing system, it could potentially be quite an exciting season for Walcott – given if he can maintain his numbers so far and better his conversion rate from his 2.3 shots pg, he could become quite the force to be reckoned with – all the much a massive benefit for Southampton if so.