By Chris Harris

The Theo Walcott who turns 20 today is incomparable with the player he was a year ago.

That's the verdict of Arsène Wenger, who watched the England star produce another dazzling display as Blackburn were dismantled at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Walcott created Arsenal's opener, could have scored a couple himself and generally gave the Rovers defence a torrid time.

It was further proof that Walcott is 'coming of age' as a footballer. He is stronger, he is more incisive in the final third and his searing pace is being channelled to great effect. Wenger is reaping the rewards of his considered approach to Walcott's development and he believes that the 'birthday boy' has been transformed over the past 12 months.

"Compared to one year ago there is no comparison," said the Frenchman.

"That is what people have problems to accept because at that age every three months you improve. You can never predict how much he will improve but there is still a lot more to come from Theo.

"He had a good start [against Blackburn] and he became stronger and stronger," continued Wenger. "He gives us something which is important as well when we play at home when he goes behind the defenders. He creates room and has a direct game. We need that.

"I don’t know [how big a player he will be in the rest of the season] but it’s important to have him back because he gives you something that can make a difference in any game."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
16 Mar 2009