England winger is in fine form and could be the man to fire Gunners past Tottenham Saturday.
Much like his team, Arsenal's Theo Walcott is on a mission this season.
Arsenal meet Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday evening in buoyant mood; a point clear at the top of the Premier League and intent on keeping the momentum going against their bitter north London foes.
Walcott epitomises that confidence. The early months of his season were disrupted by an abdominal injury, but since he returned to the side with two goals against ManchesterCity, the England winger has been in effervescent form, hitting a brace against West Ham and another goal in last weekend’s win over Cardiff.
Walcott has, for so long, been a big question mark in this Arsenal side. Blessed with genuine pace, his end product remains notoriously inconsistent, although it has improved markedly in the last 18 months as he has grown in stature and maturity.
Similarly, Walcott is determined to convince Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that he can play as a centre-forward, but wayward finishing has too often undermined his case.
Walcott, however, could get his chance against Tottenham, with Wenger likely to make at least some changes to a side which is beset by injuries.
With Olivier Giroud struggling for fitness and Nicklas Bendtner injured, Wenger may grant Walcott his wish and play him at the head of Arsenal’s attack.
If he does, it would be no surprise to see Walcott respond with a goal. The 24-year-old knows he must have a good second half of the season if he is to be completely sure of a place in Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad, and his recent record against Tottenham is impressive: four goals in the last six matches between the sides.
And against a Tottenham defence which often struggles against pace – Michael Dawson, in particular, has had his problems this season – Walcott could make a real impact.
Walcott’s words before the game against Spurs show that the hunger is there: 'I missed so many games and it’s been so frustrating', Walcott said. 'But I’d rather that injury happened at the start of the season than come in the middle or at the end. It was always going to be a slow process and I had a bit of a reaction to antibiotics I took which delayed every-thing. It’s all going well now and I am very happy'.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald