Walcott On His Way Out Or Fighting To Get In?
Theo Walcott hasn’t featured much for Arsenal since he returned from his long injury lay off and many are speculating he is being subjected to a freeze out ahead of Wenger transfer listing him this summer.
With just a year left on his contract the summer certainly would be the best time to sell if he isn’t to be offered an extension so surely it would make more sense to get him on the pitch and in the window as they say?
Keeping Theo on the bench with intent to sell but no intent to play him is not only wasting a subs spot but also driving his price down. We all know English players go for far more than their market worth in most cases and the odds are we could still command a reasonable fee for Theo even without his proving to the world he is back to his pre-injury self.
That said, I don’t for a second believe Theo is on his way out this summer and believe his absence from the team is more down to his lack of match fitness and sharpness than any covert plot to ship him out.
Getting match fit isn’t always about the physical side of the game. A lot of it is about mental preparation, anticipation, discipline, competiveness, concentration and intensity.
Anyone who has played professional sports, or even amateur sports to a high level, or trained for an athletic event like a marathon or triathlon will tell you the hardest part is often the mental side of it. Forcing your body to carry on with your training or rehabilitation when every fibre of you is screaming at your brain “stop, stop!”.
Getting fit seems hard at first quickly the exercise part of it becomes easier and your body adapts to your regime and thrives on being pushed. The hard part is what comes next.
Dedication to your fitness is what modern humans find hardest. Our bodies aren’t designed to be inactive, slack and obese but modern times makes it easy to be so which is why humans need to overcome the mental hurdles to get and remain fit.
Eating right, working out regularly, ensuring your body is getting the right nutrition pre and post-work out whether that be in your basic diet, through supplements or pre-workout tablets, getting enough sleep, and always pushing yourself that little bit further.
Not having a burger after a long work out is hard because you feel like you’ve earned it and it smells so good! That’s where the discipline comes in.
Not giving up on your target of running a marathon because after 3 days you can barely run a mile. Telling yourself tomorrow you’ll run a quarter of a mile more than you did today is where the competiveness and preparation comes into it.
The life of a footballer like Theo is full of hundreds of small decisions like this every day in what is often a very limited lifestyle. And it’s even worse when you are out injured.
If you can’t run how can you work out without putting on too much muscle? If you know you won’t be running for another 2 months what is the harm in ordering a pizza? If you don’t have to train today why not stay at home and play video games for 6 hours straight?
It is quite easy to drop your dedication to your lifestyle by just a fraction when something like a big injury gets in your way and getting that fraction back is ten times harder.
Theo has worked hard to get his physical fitness back but that is only the first hurdle. The biggest one is his match fitness and it is only something you can earn by playing more but I don’t think Arsenal have had the luxury of doing that.
Match fitness cannot be earned playing under 21 games. The intensity is not the same, the level of opposition is not the same and the motivation is different.
Theo has not mentally overcome his injury, you can see that in his hesitation in 50/50 situations. That will take time as Aaron Ramsey showed.
With so much to play for, Arsenal haven’t had the luxury of putting Theo straight back into the team. He is a superb outlet for the team but that is tempered with a lack of defence discipline and the team is finely balanced at the moment.
Hector Bellerin is having a standout season but he is still quite raw and needs a touch of shielding which I believe is why Theo has not been starting. Debuchy is a far more experienced player who could be the equilibrium in a team that contains Walcott but he too is not quite match fit.
Theo’s absence is less about him being on his way out and more about him finding it hard to work his way back in and I struggle to think why that is a bad thing.
Surely we want Arsenal to have strength in all positions? Getting rid of Theo would be counterproductive to that aim and the evidence suggests that Wenger is not looking to move Theo on any time soon.
If you are in any doubt about how easy it is to become match fit I challenge you first to eat like a footballer for a week. If you make it past the first week I then challenge you to continue with the same diet as well as introducing an extra two 30 minute exercise sessions for another week. If you make it past that spend the next 4 weeks on the same diet whilst increasing your exercise sessions but one more each week.
If by the end of the 6 weeks you have had a perfect run, not dropped a single session or cheated on a single meal then I think you are qualified to say getting back to fitness should be easy for Walcott. Or better still, use your new found fitness and existing discipline to raise some money for charity on a 10k run.
1. Whole bran with fresh fruit. 2. Bagel with jam. 3. Egg white and ham omelette. 4. Bran muffin 5. Shredded Wheat with bananas. 6. Pineapple and yoghurt. 7. Brown toast and scrambled eggs
1. Chicken salad. 2. Beans on brown toast. 3. Tuna whole-wheat pasta. 4. Green Salad with mixed beans 5. Turkey sandwich. 6. Salmon and rice. 7. Jacket potato with tuna (light mayo only).
1. Jacket potato with beans (no cheese). 2. Fish and broccoli. 3. Chicken and green veg. 4. Fish and brown rice. 5. Chicken cacciatore (tomatoes and carrots). 6. Lean steak and steamed veg. 7. Bean salad
Banana sandwiches, muesli bars, crumpets, bagels, cereal, yoghurts, protein shakes, fruit, dried fruit and nuts.
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