Is Theo ready to take over the Number 14 mantle?

Us Gooners may all claim not to care what nationality our players are, but the cheers Theo Walcott gets whenever he plays for Arsenal suggest that, deep down, we all want to see this raw English kid do well.

I for one have always believed in his potential, but some of his early performances left a lot to be desired, especially compared to other young prodigies who seen to step up a lot quicker.

But towards the end of last season, it’s fair to say the boy started to look the part. Recall his magnificent run at Anfield in the Champions League, or even at the San Siro against AC Milan. Even when he didn’t play well, against Sunderland in the last game of the season, he did enough to get himself on the scoresheet.

Speaking on Saturday, Arsene Wenger said: "Theo made a step forward last season — and we expect him to do that again this time around. I expect a lot from him this season and we will wait to see how things go.

"Last season his target was to play 15 or 20 matches, but this season he must try to become a regular. Can he break into the England side? That is what I wish. He is 19 and at that age you have to improve. I don't set any limitations on how much he can improve, I just want him to get better every day."

Apparently, the management at Arsenal tried to talk Walcott out of taking the number 14 shirt – and that’s hardly surprising given the burden of following in the footsteps of Theirry Henry.

I wonder whether Wenger has changed his mind about Walcott’s best position – having previously proclaimed that he was a centre forward in the making – and he started in that position on Saturday against Barnet.

Wenger added: "He looks more of a wide player than a central striker but Saturday was not the day to judge him. Theo is more of a runner than a link player, so we need to find the right combination with him.”

That suggests to me that he may establish himself as a right winger this season, but after those incredible Champions League cameos last season, who would bet against Walcott finally turning into the player every Gooner hopes he can be?