Walcott: I’m better than Henry, Bergkamp, Pele and Jesus!

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jan 21st, 2015
42 Comments

Headlines are designed to grab your attention and a certain amount of sensationalism is acceptable and often expected especially online where competition for clicks is fierce.

One of the worst type of headlines are the ONES with RANDOM words in all CAPITALS written with the SOLE aim of grabbing your ATTENTION with inciting BUZZ words and PROMISE of professional OBSERVATION of  why WENGER is GOOD or BAD or needs to LEARN TACTICS or how he is going to SPEND a MASSIVE amount of money on STRIKER / DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER / MOUNTAIN GOAT (delete as applicable). Those headlines are often warning signals that what you are about to read is a load of drivel full of about as much insight, truth and intelligence as the average urinary tract infection.

However, the ones that annoy me more than anything are ones like are featured on the back of the Mirror newspaper this morning which leads with the headline BETTER THAN THE INVINCIBLES and the subheading of Walcott: Our attack is superior to Wenger’s famous class of 2004.

The problem with this headline is it infers Walcott has claimed the current Arsenal team is better than the Invincibles which is a stupid thing to say (he didn’t say that) and the sub-header is written in such a way it looks as though Walcott has specifically said this attack is better than the 2004 attack which is a lie.

I have deliberately, and ironically, written today’s headline to point out my issue with what the Mirror has done. By putting a colon after Walcott’s name I am attempting to convince whoever reads the headline that Theo has said what followed (in this case he is better than Henry, Bergkamp, Pele and Jesus) and that my article contains the details of why he would make such a bold and asinine claim.

Anyone who has watched Theo Walcott develop over his time at Arsenal will know that he is a sensible person and wouldn’t say something as unbelievably stupid as claiming this attack is better than the attack the Invincbles boasted, full of players at their peak.

Note the USE of CAPITALS

Headlines like this are emotive and cloud the judgement of the reader in most cases. They go into it thinking Walcott is an idiot and leave with much the same impression as their anger at such “heresy” has blinded them to the truth of the words.

The original quotes from Theo are intact and unaltered however the suggestive tone of the piece is not in keeping with the true intent of Theo’s words.

What Theo actually said, to Arsenal Player, was this:

When I came, it was Pires and Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Thierry and Reyes – that’s some attacking force as well. I think this squad probably does beat it, but we need to prove it first

He specifically refers to the players who were in the team when he joined and it is an important distinction. When Theo joined in 2006 the team was much less potent than the team of 2004 and each of those players was in the process of winding down their Arsenal career.

What the Mirror has done is apply the force of nature performances of a team all hitting their peak at just the right time to a team mixed with old and young with different pressures and abilities and lead the reader to believe that the Henry, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljungberg of 2006 were the same players as two campaigns prior. They were not.

If reported properly this could have been an article about the belief at Arsenal in their quality and desire to show it. A positive post the supporters could get excited about because who doesn’t want to see our attack sweep teams aside? Hearing or reading Theo say he believes we have the ability but they have to do more to prove it would buoy the fans. We want our players to believe in themselves but we also want them to be honest with us and Theo saying they have to prove it is being honest. It’s not Bendtner-esque rodomontade. It is Szczesny-esque self-belief.

Theo has a point though. In 2006 our main creative and attacking players were Henry, Bergkamp, Reyes, Van Persie, Pires, Fabregas, Ljungberg and Hleb who scored a combined 75 goals, 33 of which came from Henry with Van Persie second on 12 and Pires a close third on 11. They played a total of 58 competitive games that season reaching the final of the Champions League, the semi-finals of the League Cup and exiting the FA Cup in the fourth round to Bolton.

Our comparable players in this squad are (in no particular order or direct comparison) Alexis, Özil, Walcott, Ramsey, Cazorla, Giroud, Welbeck and Chamberlain. So far they have a total of 47 goals after 33 competitive games (including the Community Shield and Champions League qualifiers) and the minimum amount of games they have left to play is 19 depending on how they fare in cup competitions. If they only play 19 more games they will have played 52 games and based on current figures they will finish with approximately 74 goals which is almost identical however over a 58 game season they would finish with 82 goals.

So in that sense Theo is right, this team could be better, or at least score more goals, than the team he joined in 2006 and it is worth noting that those figures include Walcott who is yet to score so technically this team is a man light so anything Theo adds will increase the predicted number of goals.

The 2006 team made a total of 332 appearances between them with an average of 41.5 games per player in a 58 game season and the 2014/15 team have made a total of 164 appearances so far which is 20.5 games per player after 33 games which over a 58 game season is 36 appearances per player.

What this tells me is despite injuries and making fewer appearances on average this team is on target to out score the 2006 team by a fair margin. If this team played as many games on average as the 2006 team with their current average of 2.29 goals per appearance (47 goals with an average appearance total of 20.5 equals 2.29 times by 41.5 appearances from 2006) then they would be on course for 95 goals – a full 20 goals more than that team.

Theo is not the delusional dreamer he has been portrayed as by frankly what are downright lies in terms of headlines and sub-headers and he has a real case for his claims that this team could be better than the star-studded team he joined as a wide-eyed 16 year old 9 years ago.

Once again, factor in the fact that Theo is yet to score and balance out what goals other players may lose from him playing and add back in what we know him to be capable of and we have a core group of 8 players easily capable of scoring 100 goals or more in a season.

What a time to be an Arsenal supporter.

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About "" - 403 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

42 Responses to “Walcott: I’m better than Henry, Bergkamp, Pele and Jesus!”

  1. Shubham says:

    Good piece Daniel. These papers pick up bits and pieces and make headlines so as to grab attention. This seems to be a malaise across the media industry everywhere.

  2. bliss says:

    Walcott be careful when you Christ in your talk a
    The Most High you talking about no man

  3. bliss says:

    Walcott be careful when you Christ in your talk a
    The Most High you talking about no man

  4. mrswoo says:

    A rational voice in the wilderness.

  5. bliss says:

    Be careful when you about the most high no man

  6. mrswoo says:

    And literate,too !

  7. Nuru The Guru says:

    Good one.
    Problem is: the lies, fabrication and sensationalism get amplified on the internet. I’m on a couple of (African) Whatsapp Arsenal fan groups and a few people this morning were asking what Theo was smoking! So word gets about, but it’s the wrong word, the untruthful story, and then a bunch of Gooners flood social media with their ire, foul opinion and despondency, and then of course it’s hard to undo all the negativity.
    Sensible blogs like yours are a rarity. (100+ goals though? Ha ha… you really are an optimist!)

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks. It is exactly that which I attempted to highlight in one paragraph, people believe the headline and refuse to see the truth in the actual words. The goals was a mathematical prediction, it wasn’t be being optimistic just applying simple means and multiplications 😉

  8. bliss says:

    Be careful when you talk about better than the invincibles and better than Jesus Walcott?

  9. Baza_wicks says:

    Great piece typical papers either dish the dirt or misconstrue a sentence to make headlines, articles like these show the common sense needs to prevail keep up the good work

  10. Namothy says:

    The tactic (attention grabbing) is so short term though, it attracts your attention for a superficial minute then you think “this newspaper is terrible”. Rather than sell copy, it means you switch off. Mainstream newspapers, modern punditry and sky sports news to a lesser extend have all driven me to a point of no return with regards to apathy of their product. Everything is superficial, there is no real depth or when something appears deep you find out that what they’ve actually done is skewed some badly prepared statistics.

    Quality journalists don’t seem to surface much any more. Patrick Barclay and his ilk are long dead and instead we get the “geezer” journalist or pundit who rarely offer anything worth reading. Their contribution to the profession is less than nil as they consistently seem to damage the reputation of journalism. My apathy wasn’t just arrived at, it arrived at through pure exhaustion from the antipathy I felt towards them.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Sadly it works well enough for them to continue to do it and based on social media reactions to that post (it was online before it went to print) it is safe to say many people are suckered in by and consider only the title.

    • Ben says:

      The headline always puts me off so I don’t even glance at it… by then the damage is done! 😀

  11. Trex d' Gunner says:

    Baseless sensationalism from the media. Nicely written Daniel

  12. Akshay says:

    This article made my day. Thanks!

  13. Paul Bryan says:

    Great piece. Click bait as a concept is dragging the standard of mainstream journalism through the dirt nostrils first. Although I (rather haughtily perhaps) consider myself discerning enough a reader to be able to spot when a sensationalist headline is skewed beyond semblance to truthfulness to drag the punters in, I can see why so many do, after all it’s just a click, no money changes hands. I was directed to this article from Arseblog, from whom I’ve picked up the habit of narrowing the spread of the bullshit shotgun by banning publications from my news aggregator (Newsnow) on a 1-strike-and-out basis. It’s looking decidedly sparse lately.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I’m on newsnow… hopefully I’m not in the banned listed. I often use sensationalist headlines but in an ironic post-modern hipster way 😉 As I’m sure you can tell by some of the replies.

  14. Tony Akers says:

    I do not believe Walcott said any of that Newspapers will print anything to sell them There a F—— Nuisance Lies Lies Lies That is all they know

  15. James says:

    Patronising article. We’re not stupid, we know why tabloids write what they write. However, if you read Walcott’s quote it’s pretty dumb whatever way you look at it, and an example of players shooting their mouths off again after one good result. Boast when you’ve won something, not before.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Haha. You’re the only person who found it patronising and I have a theory about people who find offence in things discussed in general and not aimed at a specific person and that’s they’re offended because they see themselves in what was said.

      What he said wasn’t dumb at all unless you yourself are dumb enough to read it literally.
      They’ve not long won the FA Cup and the team he compared this one to had also just won the FA Cup.

    • James says:

      Maybe I’m the only one who found it patronising because I’m not a biased sheep. What Walcott said was dumb. “I think this squad probably does beat it, but we need to prove it first”

      How can you say the squad is probably better than the Invincibles then in the same sentence admit it’s unproven? At best it’s a meaningless statement. It’s like me saying, Coquelin is the best defensive midfielder in the world, but first he has to prove it. First you have to prove something, then maybe you can have a debate about it, not before.

      With reference to the FA Cup, six months later it was the worst start to any Arsenal season in 32 years, which precisely shows why players should not make ludicrous statements that they can’t, or don’t back up.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Wow. I explained quite comprehensively how he specifically did not refer to the Invincibles. It’s ironic that you say biased sheep because it seems that is exactly what you are. You are so blinkered by the achievement of the Invincibles you seem to think it impossible that those players ever deteriorated. It seems as though in your mind they are perfectly preserved and can’t fathom why our stupid manager let them go when they are all at the top of their game.

      Theo specifically referred to the team he joined in 2006. 2006. I’ve said it twice in the hope it might sink in. How can Theo comment on a team he didn’t play in and how can his comment “when I joined” refer to players of the past because that is what they were. You cannot compare the 2006 squad to the Invincibles squad because circumstances had changed. Legs were older, younger players were getting more time, players had left etc.

      Bergkamp was months away from retiring, Henry was squeezing out his last season of 25+ goals for Arsenal, Pires was months away from being let go, Ljungberg was slowly being replaced with Hleb, Vieira had left, Campbell wasn’t far off joining Portsmouth, Lauren was handing over the reigns to Eboue. Yes Eboue. And Ashley Cole made only 15 appearances.

      This was not the Invincbles. The Invincibles peaked in 2004. They were probably the best team I have ever seen in my life but I’m not so biased to say they finished on a high because the next season they scraped an FA Cup win then finished 4th the season after having concentrated on the Champions League run.

      There was nothing patronising about the blog whatsoever. What was written doesn’t even come close to the definition of patronising but I’ll patronise you here and say that it seems you struggle with definitions as you don’t understand the meaning of “probably” which is quite different from definitely. You also seem to struggle with distinctions. But you know what, I don’t care if you found it patronising because that was not the intention and any feelings of being patronised are entirely of your own invention. My issue is how you have swallowed and are repeating the same shit the papers came out with.

      You say he can’t back up his statement but this forward line, which he specifically referenced not the whole team, is on course to out score that team and that is having missed half their players for the majority of the campaign. Which was clearly explained in the article.

      It seems to me that your problem James is that you were gullible enough to fall for the headline and now can’t break out of it. You’ve been suckered in and will now do anything to defend your opinion that Theo is dumb. You are more than entitled to believe that and I am just as entitled to say I think you are talking utter shite.

      You lack the ability to see or consider context, distinction and nuance – in short, you are exactly the type of person who falls for bullshit and propagates said bullshit by repeating it ad nauseum.

    • native says:

      Maybe I’m just being silly but surely a debate is a conversation used to get closer to a concept that is not 100% proven… If it was self evident that we are currently better than the invincibles then no debate would be needed. To me this was about an arsenal team member showing self belief and confidence but not getting ahead of himself. I can relate to someone seeing the pinnacle of his proffesion and believing he can do better yet know he has to prove it. There is no harm in my opinion letting that be known, tired of afc fans being so bloody pessimistic if you’re gonna support do it especially after we tuck in city.

    • Nonny says:

      Dumb is when someone picks up a newspaper headline and agrees to the news without trying to read the story to figure out if it makes any sense. Dumb is when a player says he want’s to push himself to be the league top scorer and you ask him if he is not just satisfied with been in the team. Dumb is when you see a man pressing the lift button on the ground floor of a building and you ask if he is going up?

      I have a fellow gunner fan who was so angry Wenger did not sign Balotteli instead chose to sign Welbeck. Today I ask him, who would u rather we signed? I am sick of reading fellow ‘Arsenal’ supporters always bad mouthing the club, players and the manager. Wanting the club to buy every player the press link us to and insulting the players for every missed goal, wrong pass, drawn game or defeat. As a fan, I support my club in good and bad times and stand by the manager and players through thick and thin. Although I want Arsenal to win always, but its not happening and will never happen even in fantasy football.

      If a club and its policies does not suite u, u are neither paid to be a fan or under obligation. Quietly move a club that suites you more. Or u learn the true meaning of been a SUPPORTER. People like u are tagged aaa in Untold-arsenal and I can not agree more.

  16. bliss says:

    Didn’t know Jesus was a
    Footballer Daniel lol

  17. Safe Ands says:

    JC is a brilliant goalie. After all; Jesus saves…

  18. David says:

    Great article.

  19. Alex says:

    I respectfully disagree, both with Walcott’s actual statement, and your interpretation above. In 2006, when you omitted to mention we also had Adebayor when Theo joined, the Arsenal attack was certainly stronger than it is now, even though the current attack is pretty good. While it is true that Bergkamp and Pires were not at the same level as before, Henry, was at his absolute best in 2006. He carried us through to a Champions League final, and contributed to France getting to the World Cup Final – he was a penalty shoot out away from getting the Ballon D’Or, which he deserved, because he was the best player in the world at the time without doubt. We apparently turned down two bids of £50m at the end of that season for him. No, I refuse to accept he was in decline then. We do not have a player ranked in the top 3 in the world now. Our main striker, Giroud, is a sub at International level, and no comparison with Henry. Welbeck is also effectively second choice for England, and not in Van Persie’s class in 2006, I mean, Man U sold him because they had the ageing RVP ahead of him even now! Behind them, we no longer have a third choice striker as such, but would play a wide man up front, while then we had Adebayor. I do think the support for the strikers is very strong now, and maybe rivals the level in 2006. But only Sanchez could walk into the 2006 team.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I did not include Adebayor as he scored 0 goals that season and made a handful of token appearances. Henry carried the team in 2006 and he was still at his top level, this being the last season for Arsenal he would be at that level, but even then that is factored in. There are no comparisons with individual players in Theo’s comments or my analysis. He referenced the whole team and he has a point.

      Would you rather a team had the potential to score 90-100 goals or do you prefer a team with fewer goals because of names?

  20. Ratan says:

    Well written, Daniel. And even better analysed. This is why I dislike reading the papers…

  21. Mpls says:

    Patronising. Sheep. You forgot the ALL CAPS James.

    I do not find this article patronising in the least. But I do find it insulting someone assumes I am a “Sheep” because I happen to agree with the author and appreciate hearing a bit of pride and confidence in the squad as too much of it has been missing over recent years.

    Should we slap Theo and tell him he’ll never amount to anything?

  22. John Abraham says:

    Why is it so difficult for some to accept thatTheo was not talking about the Invincibles? The young man was talking about the team of 2006. I believe, like Theo, that the present team could be better than that of 2006 if they continue like they have done in the last three games. Daniel made a competent analysis of what Theo said vis-a-vis the present situation if the team. I am an Arsenal fan and have been for many years, even through the barren years. We must be objective and not unnecessarily crucify a young man just because he and his team mates have the ambition of beating the 2006 team which they are capable of doing. Patience James! Read and digest before sounding off, please!!!!!!!

  23. eduardo says:

    james where did Walcott say this team or even just the attack is better than the 2004 team or attack, the only place its said is in a made up headline by the mirror, or are you too dumb to actually understand that, despite this very good article by Daniel explaining it to you

    you say you know why the tabloids write what they write, well if that is true you must know its written for idiots like yourself who want something to moan about even when its clearly untrue, and despite when its well explained to you, it makes no difference because you want to take a negative stance.

  24. kaius says:

    Thanks for pushing back against this relentless tyranny of shoddy headlines and even worse sports journalism. Rare to find proper sports writing or even accurate reporting of games at times. The Mirror is a shameless repeat offender. We can sympathise with the plight of the print media who had to quickly adapt to digital or die – standards were jettisoned in the battle for relevance. If there continues to be no commercial obligation for them to report ethically, the decline will continue, with a whole generation brought up on distorted, trivialized sports journalism.

    Your deconstruction of this story is a credit to this site and your answer to the gentleman who wrote to you before engaging his brain was as scathing as it was necessary. Great work Daniel.

  25. marcia brown says:

    Nicely written article Daniel, well done. You’ve taken a sensationalised article, that would’ve had a lot of people questioning Walcott’s sanity, and actually explained what Walcott was trying to say… I can only imagine some of the abuse the original article will now produce, which will be directed at Walcott….once more well done Daniel………..Come on Arsenal…..

  26. MTZ says:

    I certainly believe what Walcott said has been blown out of proportions, but his statement is certainly a bit off.

    What’s missing, both from the statement and the math presented here, is tactics: We were much more defensively minded back then. We’re letting in goals by the boatload compared to the 2006 team, which is a result of the setup. You can’t simply analyze goal scoring without taking into consideration what we’re trying to accomplish with the given players.

    Who’s to say how many goals they would have scored with the “all out” tactic that we’re currently using (except against City, which was great to see)? It’s simply impossible to predict, making any comparison rather pointless, both from Theo and the silly articles.

    In terms of individual skill, it’s fairly obvious that Henry was (and still is) the King, but beyond that it’s very, very difficult to make an accurate comparison.

  27. UberGunner says:

    One thing i think people also forget is that it’s opinion, not fact. Walcott states what he thinks (rightly or wrongly). Whether or not he is correct is irrelevant. It shows his optimism for the future based on his personal experiences of the past. What this current team does or does not achieve time will tell, but obviously the thing to take from his words is that there is obviously some positive vibes going on behind the scenes, and his words will only help reinforce this belief in the dressing room.

  28. […] can read more about Theo’s comments and how the media turned it on its head here on Daniel Cowan’s blog. BE NICE, SHARE!00000 Follow @Misterspruce1 !function(d,s,id){var […]

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