16th March – Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott burst onto the scene and went to the 2006 World Cup without playing a single minute in the Premier League and he continues to divide opinion.

At the age of 26 he still has a long career in front of him but he seems to have been around for a long time and maybe hasn’t developed as much as some Arsenal fans hoped. However, on his day his pace is frightening and he can be one of the deadliest finisher in Europe. Unfortunately after going to the World Cup so young a lot was expected.

Walcott England

Walcott started his career at Southampton and became the club’s youngest ever player at the age of 16 years and 143 days after coming off the bench against Wolves in a 0-0 draw. Just four days later he would make his full debut against Leeds United and would go on to score in the game. This began a remarkable rise for him as he would go on to score against Millwall and Stoke City.

Walcott Soton

This form alerted some of the biggest clubs in England and after just 23 professional games he joined Arsenal on the 20th January 2006. He would have to wait until the start of the following season to make his debut and made a good impression setting up a goal for Gilberto Silva against Aston Villa after coming on as a substitute. His first goal for the club would come in the League Cup final against Chelsea, unfortunately they would go on to lose the game 2-1.

During the 2007-08 season he would score his first home and Champions League goals against Slavia Prague and his first Premier League goals against Birmingham City on the 23rd February 2008.The biggest compliment given to Walcott was that at the start of the following campaign he was given the number 14 shirt, previously worn by Thierry Henry. But after a positive start a dislocated shoulder meant he missed a lot of the season and after recovering he was rewarded for his form by being given a new contract. Yet again the 2009-10 season was marred by injuries and restricted to just 15 league starts but in the Champions League he produced one of his best performances in a 2-2 draw with Barcelona. This must have given him confidence as he quickly became an important player for the club and started the next season very well with a hatrick against Blackpool in a 6-0 win.

Walcott Arsenal

But controversy was to follow after he admitted to diving to try and win a penalty in an FA Cup against Leeds on the 8th January 2011. He ended the season with a career high nine goals in the league and 13 in total which showed that he was getting better every season. Despite playing more games the next season he didn’t match his previous efforts and it was a little tougher for him.

Walcott was a striker at Southampton and many fans felt that is where he should be played and in the 2012-13 season he was given the opportunity and proved that he could play in that role. In his first game as a lone striker he scored a hatrick and provided two assists in a 7-3 win over Newcastle United and shortly after signed a new deal that put an end to any speculation he was about to leave. At the end of the season he finished 14 goals and 12 assists in 32 Premier League games and a further seven goals in other competitions. Two bad injuries in the next season limited his playing time but he still managed in five goals in 13 games. This season he has slowly been coming back from his injury but will be hoping he can make a difference towards the end of the campaign.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp who gave him his professional debut. “The kid can run through puddles and not make a splash. He’s lightning, he drifts over the ground and he’s a fantastic talent. I hope this kid can go on and be a top player. He’s got a long way to go but I’m sure he can.”

Advertisements

8th February – Carl Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson celebrated his birthday today by helping West Ham to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and despite a late goal it was still a very good point and performance.

It wasn’t such a good time for his parent club Arsenal this weekend who got beat by local rivals Tottenham Hotspur but the player is developing into a top quality right back who has been getting better as the season has gone on. It is good to see him now he is 23 getting first team football as he could easily challenge for the right back spot in the national team. His form this season has proved he is good enough for the top flight and with Mathieu Debuchy getting injured a few times this season he could have got plenty of opportunities at the Emirates.

Jenkinson started his career at Charlton Athletic but got his first taste of professional football at Welling United who he joined on loan in 2010 and went on to play 10 league games. He had to wait until November to get his next taste of football at Conference Premier Side Eastbourne Borough but after just four appearance he was recalled by Charlton. He made his first appearance for Charlton in the Football League Trophy Southern section semi final against Brentford. His performances for the rest of the season were impressive and this led to him being linked with moves away from the club.

Jenkinson CA

In June 2011 he joined Arsenal and made his debut in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese after coming on as a second half substitute. This was a meteoric rise for the defender but he seemed to be taking everything in his stride and put in decent performance. However, it wasn’t long before it was too much of a step up as he was part of the Arsenal side that were demolished 8-2 by Manchester United but he did set up Robin Van Persie’s goal, however his game was ended early after being sent off late in the game.

Jenkinson Arsenal

After returning he did show some potential but unfortunately his development was stalled as he spent three months on the sidelines after a stress fracture in his lower back. At the start of the 2012-13 season Jenkinson started the first five matches and once again gained plaudits for his performances, particularly against Manchester City and was rewarded with a new long term contract by the club shortly after. He ended the season with 21 appearances and in the following campaign he once again was a part of the starting lineup. He featured 22 times throughout the season and got his first career goal on the final day of the season against Norwich City.

On the 31st July the right back joined West Ham on loan for the whole season but had to wait until a 2-2 draw with Hull City on the 15th September to make his debut due to injuries. But he quickly established himself in the first team and has put in some consistent performances.

Jenkinson WH

The final word can go to Theo Walcott. “Carl always wants to learn, which is great to see. He’s eager, he wants to perform and he is getting better every game. He’s got bags of confidence, all the lads are encouraging him and it’s showing in his performances.”

1st September – Jose Antonio Reyes

With Arsenal fans desperate for their club to sign a striker on transfer deadline day, it is the birthday of one of their former forwards Jose Antonio Reyes.

Now at the age of 31 he may not have been prolific but was he a better option than their current crop of strikers? With Olivier Giroud out injured, they only have Yaya Sanogo as a recognised a striker and then others in Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell and Alexis Sanchez that can play upfront. Reyes may not have quite worked out as well for Arsenal as they hoped and maybe that is a warning to Arsenal fans who are begging for a signing.

The forward started his career at Sevilla and signed his first full contract in 1999, making his debut as a 16 year old against Real Zaragoza. Over the next four seasons he became well known around Europe as someone that can play in any of the forward positions and score from any angle. In his 86 league appearances for the club he scored 21 times.

Arsenal signed Reyes in the January transfer window of the 2003-04 season and made his debut in a 2-1 win against Manchester City. In his first half a season he scored five times in 21 games, helping Arsenal go unbeaten in the Premier League. In his first full season he started off brilliantly and many people thought that he was going to lead Arsenal to the title but midway through the season he began to struggle and remained inconsistent.
Reyes Arsenal
In early 2005 there were claims that Reyes was homesick and wanted to return to Spain and despite and helping Arsenal win the FA Cup in 2005 and then reach the final of the Champions League in 2006, he was very inconsistent and could not reproduce his best form. After 69 Premier League appearances and 16 goals he was included in a swap deal with Real Madrid.

Reyes was a regular for Madrid and scored some important goals, including his first on the 17th September 2006 with a free kick against Real Sociedad. More importantly he scored twice on the final day against Mallorca to help Madrid come from behind and not only win the game but also the league.

Despite this success he did not sign permanently and instead joined city rivals Atletico Madrid. He got off to a very poor start as he could not force his way into the side and failed to score in his 26 league appearances. After just one season it seemed like his time at the club was over as he left for Benfica on loan and had a better time scoring four goals in 26 games and producing better performances.
???????
After returning to Atletico, he was reunited with his manager from Benfica Quique Flores and became one of the most important members of the team. Over the next two seasons he played 90 games but after the manager left he lost his consistency and had a falling out with new manager Gregorio Manzano which led to him leaving the club and on the 5th January 2012 he rejoined Sevilla.
Reyes Sevilla
Although he is not as much a goalscoring threat for Sevilla, he does still play an important role and helped them win last season’s Europa League by scoring twice in nine games.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “Jose Reyes is a fantastic signing. He can play in midfield or as a supporting striker. He can play on the left or on the right, in fact, anywhere as an offensive player. Jose will be a great asset to our squad.”