Brought to Arsenal in their teens after a handful of games, developed by Arsène Wenger, exciting early appearances - the similarities between Theo Walcott and Nicolas Anelka are obvious.

The Frenchman had made just 11 first-team appearances for Paris St Germain before he was taken to Highbury in February 1997. After adapting to English football he became the spearhead of the side that secured the 'double' a season later. Anelka left in 1999 for Real Madrid and, although he won the Champions League at the Bernabeu, perhaps has never quite lived up to his early promise. On Saturday, he could be lining up for Bolton against his former mentor.

At the moment Wenger has another pacy, perceptive young talent on his hands. Theo Walcott was brought to the Club after only 23 games for Southampton and the early signs are impressive. His late substitute appearance changed the game against Hamburg on Tuesday and there is a clamour to see him start at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday. But the manager wears kid gloves when handling his young talent. His aim is to ensure Walcott's Arsenal career is considerably longer than Anelka's and at least as impressive.

"Nicolas made a massive impact when he arrived," said Wenger, "but he and Theo are different characters. 

"Anelka was a centre forward who took over from Ian Wright and helped us to win the 'double' in the first year. At 17 years of age that is something that can hit you. But it hit his environment more than it hit him I feel.

"He was always a placid boy but it created a lot of unrest around him. I have met Nicolas since and he has analysed it all well and he has made a lot of good decisions.

"Theo is a very different case to Nicolas," the manager went on, "He was French. Theo is English and there is more national responsibility for a young prospect.

"There's a lot of expectation too. I feel the boy is under a lot of pressure, because if he plays and doesn't deliver, people are very, very aggressive with him. That is already the case.

"But at the same time there is a strange attitude with Theo. There is a lot of hope because people still think he cannot have gone to the World Cup at 17 years of age and not be a superstar.  But as well, as soon as he does not deliver, there is a lot of destroyable material around him, and I do not want that to affect his career."

7/1 - Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal: Arsenal to win 2-1


Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 24 Nov 2006