Three Saints came marching in to the Emirates – One has marched out and the other 2…


In January 2006, during the winter transfer market something very very strange happened. Arsene Wenger signed on three new players, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Adebayor and Southampton starlet, Theodore James Walcott. Yes, you read that right, THREE players.  Each stayed at The Arsenal for a length of time to varying degrees of success, but of that group, only one man is currently left standing, the man who inherited the number 14 shirt of club legend, Thierry Henry. The current Arsenal side has suffered a lot of criticism from every corner of the footballing world, and number 2 on the list of most reviled in the Arsenal family (second only to Chief in command-of-hate, Monsieur Wenger) is none other than the player who came over from the Saints in 2006 in a deal worth, in the end about £12million.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott unlike Abou and Ade came over from the coast to London with a lot of hype surrounding him due to the large amounts of pace to burn he showed whenever he stepped on to the field, mind you at the tender age of 16. Being nominated for and winning, the BBC Best Young Sports Personality and being selected for the 2006 World Cup in Germany must have been a whirlwind year for young Theo. For Arsenal fans though, the young chap they saw bag a hat-trick for England against Croatia in Zagreb in what seems like decades ago has not shot on to the heights expected.

There have been several false dawns with Theo, games during which he shows he can be a world beater and why elite defenders such as Alaba name him a fearsome opponent, and games where he makes himself look a bang average player who may boss a Sunday league game but nothing above that. Having played over 300 games for the Gunners whilst racking up what honestly based on his talents is a paltry 86 goals over 10 years, Theo is due a testimonial for his loyalty to the club. It should not be written off though, playing for one team for a decade in this day and age of abnormal wages being flung around to turn players’ heads.


In August 2011, Arsenal ‘poached’ once again from Southampton another heralded starlet by the name of Alexander Mark David ‘Alex’ Oxlade-Chamberlain, son of former England International, Mark Chamberlain. As the 150th player to ever represent Arsenal in the Premier League, his baptism of fire came in THAT 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Man United. Another one whose career has fizzled more than exploded with exceptional consistency, Alex, who had been praised by Marco Van Basten as a gem after single handedly ‘almost’ bringing Arsenal back from the brink in a knockout game against A.C. Milan in 2012 like Theo before him, has suffered injuries in crucial moments of his development. Another factor that may be an obstacle to Alex’s growth has been the fact that blessed with many qualities, his best position on the field half a decade after his move, still isn’t known.



The last to be taken off the conveyor belt of talent being harbored in Southampton was Calum Chambers. The highly talented player who after 25 games for the Saints was deemed good enough to star for The Arsenal started almost 20 games when he joined Arsenal in 2014, featuring both at right back and at centre back, but started only 2 games last season, mainly due to the rapid development of Hector Bellerin.  It has been clear how much potential he possesses in patches, which have not been that many, thus his loan move to Middlesbrough this season. Another one from the Saints who made to explode but only flickered with a few sparks.


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One important milestone occurred for Gunners in 2006, the move to the enchanting Emirates Stadium. Most of the club’s history happened on the hallowed turfs of Highbury, with the stands bouncing when the unmatchable style and power of the likes of Vieira, Bergkamp and Henry was turned on. Since the move to the Emirates though, there had been few reasons to jubilate as a Gunner as we strived to create ‘good’ history on the beautifully unrivalled manicured turfs.


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The arrivals and development of Theo, Alex and Calum, from the Saints, who were to be part of a swashbuckling British core including Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs, since 2006 up until now epitomizes all that Arsenal has been through and has become. After moving to a bigger, better stadium from the Highbury stadium, instead of moving quickly on to bigger things (not counting Community shields and Emirates cups) there had been a time where only retrogression seemed to be the rule and not the exception. But in recent years, with a change in mindset and direction, Arsenal finally seems to be making strides towards returning to the Pantheon of elite English football teams. Finishes of 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the last 3 seasons show an upward growth which one hopes can finally be completed successfully this season, despite the arrival of other heavyweight managers backed by owners with heavy ‘man-purses.’

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Theo and Alex have shown signs of growth as well this season when they have featured, especially Theo. Surprisingly this season, fans find someone in a number 14 shirt running back on defense, tackling, man marking, hassling and making a nuisance of himself to defenders, time and time again. No, Mohammed El Neny is not the one in that shirt, it is Theodore James Walcott, who marched into the Emirates from the Saints a decade ago, looking to finally leave his own ‘ good history’ in the revered number 14 shirt worn by a legend immortalized outside the Emirates in bronze.


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Here’s to hoping finally this season Theo, Alex and Calum shed the tags of ‘talents’ to explode into the superstars their abilities show they truly are.


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2 Responses to Three Saints came marching in to the Emirates – One has marched out and the other 2…

  1. geekaybee September 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

    I liked your article Faisal. It was well set out and well written. I tend to be very critical of all things Wenger and when I speak or write about him it shows. I have met quite a lot of Gold Coast people in my life and have found them to be warm hearted and honest. You seem to be carrying on that tradition. I might not agree with everything you may write in the future but l will certainly look forward to reading them. Good luck.

    • Faisal Mohammed September 23, 2016 at 11:43 am #

      Thank you very much George, for your kind words even if we may disagree on some things concerning Wenger. Looking forward to you reading, and leaving more constructive comments. Hope others on here follow your lead. Cheers from The Gold Coast. 🙂

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