It's easy to forget that Theo Walcott is just 23 years old, having achieved so much in such a short space of time.

The young forward has enjoyed his biggest season to date, playing more matches than any previous campaign and stepping up his efforts as a wide man to lay on 12 assists for his team-mates.

Robin van Persie has hailed the role of Theo in his own prolific campaign, while Arsène Wenger admits he expects the England international to reach double figures every season. “I believe that overall Theo has improved offensively, defensively, with assists, in goalscoring and in teamwork," said the Frenchman. “He is getting to where you want him to be now. I feel that he has made a step forward this season."

It's difficult to argue against that. Theo has made no secret of his desire to move up front one day, a wish that may well be granted with a few more goals to his name next season. That, together with a consistent campaign, should put him in good stead for another fruitful term.

"He has had his best season yet,” Wenger added. “He gets criticism because he raises the level of expectation so much that when he has a disappointing game or doesn’t make the difference, people straight away go at him because they expect something special."

“At times people just expect me to knock the ball and run but it is not as easy as you think. As soon as you start doing that, the defender knows what you are doing every time. You need to change it because you can't just be one-dimensional. I am always going to be known for pace, I know that. But the next step is the finishing. I have a lot of assists this season but I don't think I am ever going to lose that.”

THEO WALCOTT 2011/12 season stats
Competition Appearances Goals Assists
Premier League 32+3 8 11
Champions League 8 2 1
FA Cup 1+2 1 -
Carling Cup - 0 -
Total 41+5 11 12

Theo's first-half performance in the 5-2 derby victory over Tottenham was, by his own admission, nowhere near what he was capable of achieving. But a more relaxed Walcott took to the field in the second half and scored twice as Arsène Wenger's side took control. "I was just trying too hard and it wasn't quite happening," he said. "But then I just tried to forget about that, played as a free spirit in the second half and it happened. Football is a weird game; you have your ups and downs and that is the way it works."

11/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur - Theo Walcott

Theo finds the net in the north London derby

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6 Jun 2012