Bale V Walcott: Have You Been Conned By The Pundits?

Anyone who’s been following the Premiership this year will undoubtedly have heard rave reviews about Bale. Many players divide opinions but it seems to be that the Tiny Tott winger has been universally lauded. Some have gone so far as to compare him with Messi!

Speaking of players dividing opinions while talking of Bale the name Theo Walcott comes to mind. The Arsenal youngster has had his share of critics all through his Arsenal career to date. I have read plenty of opinions from pundits and fans that Walcott will never be good enough.

It’s an interesting contrast to say the least.

Before going further I’ll acknowledge that Gareth Bale is a very good player. He has pace, good technique, and is quite intelligent on the field. I have nothing against the Welshman and don’t wish to take anything away from his accomplishments.

Upon closer examination we do get some interesting facts about the two players in question.

Bale has scored 7 goals and has 3 assists in the League this season in roughly 1947 minutes. That comes to an average of a goal or assist every 195 minutes or more than two games. In contrast, Walcott has 6 goals and 4 assists in 664 minutes or one goal or assist every 66 minutes.

Someone might argue that we cannot read too much into those stats but they’ll have to give a strong justification in my opinion. If the numbers had been closer I’d have accepted that argument but as we can see Walcott makes an impact in one-third the time that Bale does. It’s too big a gap to ignore.

Let’s look at some other stats and performances in big games.

Theo doesn’t make as many passes as Song or Cesc. That is understandable. It’s not part of his job description. But he makes an impact, and even in the big games. One just has to look at the recent game against Chelsea to see an example of this.

In contrast, Bale has been a flop against the likes of Chelsea and United. In the last 0-0 borefest against United, Bale attempted 40 passes and completed 65% of those. He just had one shot on target and that was a lame free-kick. Out of his 9 crosses only two were successful and one of those two went all the way to Hutton on the right touchline.

Earlier, against Chelsea, even when the Blues were out of form, Bale only attempted 25 passes and completed 13 of those. And this was with Paulo Ferreira at Right Back.

When combined with the goal and assist stats mentioned earlier this does show that while Bale is a very good player, he is not really the world beater he’s made out to be. If he moved to a better team Bale might improve his numbers significantly but for the time being he isn’t shattering the earth.

This analysis made me wonder why is Bale hyped to such an extent while Walcott gets criticized even when he has a good game. Since both are British, that is certainly not a factor.

The first thought that comes to mind is the club these players play for. I’ve always believed and often mentioned, and I guess this is a feeling shared by many, that some pundits just can’t be positive about anything Arsenal. Then there are those who feel so inferior in front of Wenger that they just have to berate Le Boss and the Gunners.

On the other hand, Redknapp has a reverse effect on these pundits. He is almost at their level and makes them feel important. They reciprocate by hyping ‘Arry. It also rubs off on their analysis of the Tiny Totts. Bale has obviously benefitted from this.

The second thought, and this seems very relevant to me, was that Bale is an archetypal British player – Wide player, quick, with lots of crosses and shooting.

When the ball fizzes across the penalty box at pace it excites these pundits. It’s the point where their understanding and Redknapp’s tactics come together. They see it as the best form of football. It doesn’t matter that in most cases, no striker will ever be able to get on the end of these crosses. They don’t realize that statistically these crosses are extremely inefficient and are directly responsible for Bale having such a low minutes per goal/assist ratio.

Ideally, in their opinions, Walcott should have been a similar player. But he doesn’t always “whip it in with pace”, or “get it into the right areas”. They don’t like it. They don’t like the fact that his manager is trying to teach him something different, more intelligent, and three times more effective!

These pundits are happy if half a dozen meaningless crosses whiz across the penalty box. They don’t appreciate it when a player gets to the byline and tries to look for a good pass. They deride him when he tries to think at a high speed and fails.

When I thought of it this way, it wasn’t difficult to see why Walcott is treated the way he has been. Nor is it hard to understand the hype around Bale. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Walcott is great or that Bale is no good. I like both players. I just don’t like the differences in general perception about the two, especially as they’re completely unjustified and fuelled by ignorant, misguided punditry. Unfortunately, too many people seem to get conned by these experts. Are you one of them?

PS: Sorry for going AWOL in the last couple of days. It’s really hectic. Even for this piece I barely found time at midnight. And apologies if that’s led to any bloopers. I haven’t been able to double check the details or proof read the post.


92 Responses to Bale V Walcott: Have You Been Conned By The Pundits?

  1. Rocastle says:

    Great post. One i shall certainly arm myself with the next time I’m in the pub listening to poor souls suffering from irritable bale syndrome.

  2. Stone says:

    Bale is not British, he is Welsh

  3. james says:

    I’m sorry man but I thoroughly disagree with this analysis- even with my deep-seated hatred for the Spuds, Bale is class and probably (along with Modric) the only player from them that I won’t mind having in our squad.
    Your referring to “when the ball fizzes across the penalty box at pace it excites these pundits” may be 100% true but Bale’s crosses are not just fizzing across with pace, they are ridiculously potent/on target and would have been utilized better if Spurs had stronger finishers and if Defoe had played more games this season.
    Gareth Bale is no Ashley Cole in defense but as a winger, he’s eerily like a hybrid of Giggs and Carlos- the guy strikes serious fear into defenders (just ask Maicon). He’s extremely effective within the game- stats about assists and goals don’t even come close to describing how he pushes back the other teams D and allows space to open up for Modric and VDV at the heart of the offense- nobody, and I repeat nobody fails to pay attention to him when they play Spurs and this is one big reason why they’ve improved so much (results-wise) this year.
    Theo is coming up and is thankfully starting to become a world beater and something necessary in a team like ours (a direct, pacy player who possesses a lethal shot and is not afraid to take his chances unlike almost every other star we have) but he’s not near Bale right now.
    Gareth Bale deserves all the plaudits he’s getting and more, I can’t think of anyone in world football whose crossing gets as dangerous as his (wide crosses, low crosses, everything that Crouchy does his mest to murk up and reduce the stats you refer to).

    • glen says:

      @james
      u r a bloody spud fan! y dun u find a spud blog to rant abt bale u fool

      • james says:

        Dumb-ass, look at my contributions on this site and tell me who’s the spud fan, idiot…
        I’m just not sitting under a freaking rock like you- I might hate Barca but it’d take a dummy like you to say Arshavin is better than Messi because of that.
        Spurs have been full of shitty players since time immemorial but in Bale, Modric and VDV, they finally have some relatively enviable quality- the case of Bale is especially annoying cos it seemed we were interested in him and we have Theo who’s his best friend. Also, given what we’ve done with Ramsey and Wilshere (even with s-faced Shawcross), it’ll be lovely having a core of British youth in our ranks to potentially dominate the EPL for a decade.
        So, come off your cloud and use a tiny nugget of that tiny nugget called your brain!!!

      • Furovich says:

        James is clearly not a Spuds fan. James, very well said mate. I totally agree. Stats play a role in football but they certainly don’t tell the full picture. When Walcott scores one of the freakish hat tricks you will see at the San Siro, Walcott will get the praise Bale has gotten.

      • desigunner says:

        Yes that Hat-trick has affected a lot of opinions and the hype. While it was undoubtedly exciting and commendable, people forget it was scored after the opposition scored 4 goal in half-hour and went to sleep. In contrast, Theo scored a hat-trick away to Croatia that actually won the game and knocked the opponents out of qualification – revenge for the Euro shambles.

    • Rash says:

      Lol spud fan trying to “pretend”… “even with my deep-seated hatred for the Spuds” lol!

      • samir nasri says:

        i think it just shows how interested everyone is in his standard but quality game.

        he’s no samir nasri, not by a long shot. walcott is just as good!

      • james says:

        The same reply above goes to you, your no-analysis shows how little of any sense or rationale you have for attacking an argument, you’re probably s noob fan and I don’t blame you.
        Take a hike or come up with something relatively sane…

    • andy p says:

      Well @James if what you say is true and he has the most lethal crossing ability, wouldnt he have MORE assists than he currently does? So I disagree with your analysis.
      The only saving grace, and this is mightily important, is that Bale frequently plays for spuds as a fullback. And for a fullback, his statistics are very impressive. He does cause havoc for defences and is a real quality player, no question.

      No one can argue that Theo Walcott has not been one of the most potent forwards this season. His pace is scary and his decision making has improved a lot. His form justifies him a starting position in the arsenal line up. He has only had 7 starts in the EPL this season and has 6 goals to his name. As long as he doesnt get injured, this will be a big season for Theo.

      • james says:

        Thanks for a rational point but you do realize that assists in football aren’t exactly basketball lite, how do you explain a cross into the box, that is powerful and hence isn’t defended well, that then leads to a mix-up and a goal for the team- I don’t think its labeled an assist.
        How do you explain a player drawing more people away from the box, because they are scared of his pace and dribbles and have to focus time on him, that opens up the middle and makes things easier for central players like Modric and VDV- that also isn’t called an assist.
        Imagine what we’d have if Sagna (who’s wonderful by the way) has anything comparable to a Maicon or Dani Alves attacking-wise, do you know how much easier it would be for our midfield magicians to do their thing (ask Barca and you’ll find out).
        I have to admit that Barca are better than us but I don’t even think its just down to the pure genius of a Messi (not that Messi isn’t the best player in the world now). Cesc can, and might eventually, be better than Xavi but the fact that Xavi has someone like Alves parading down the right means that opponents are fearful of another weapon and makes things easier for the central players to pass things around even in Europe where there can be Mourinho-teams like Inter and Chelsea who set out to nullify attack-minded teams like us.
        One big problem now with Arsenal is predictability and truth is we probably have only 3 or 4 players who can give that touch of unpredictability (Walcott, Arshavin- when he’s not slacking off and Nasri). These are all midfielders and strikers and the flair of a player like Bale in a team like Arsenal would add so much.
        Truth be told, tottenham are not so much better than they were a couple years ago but Bale brings raw pace and flair that confuses opponents and makes it easier for his team to do things because there’s less pressure on them.

    • desigunner says:

      Well I never said Bale is not a good player. But I’m not convinced the hype around him is justified. I’ve looked at his crossing stats from other games as well and they’re not so great.

      Let’s not forget Bale often plays in a counter attacking set up which is perfect for him to use his pace. Whereas Arsenal often come up against a parked bus. Has Bale done well against the parked bus of say Birmingham or West Ham this season?

      Don’t get me wrong, Bale is a very good player but so is Walcott. I just don’t like the different way both are judged.

      • Mik says:

        I totally agree. I think people simply make up their mind and it is nearly impossible to change them. Walcott was injured for a long time last season and when he came back they immediately complained that his form hasn’t improved since he joined Arsenal. And then came the pundits who wanted to look smart by claiming that he has no footballing brain (wth) and that he will never make it.

      • james says:

        But you’ve contributed a bit to the judging by attempting to compare their stats. You mentioning the spurs counter attacking set-up as ‘perfect for him’ doesn’t really mean anything so are you blaming Wenger for Walcott not playing in the right set-up or blaming Bale for being in the right one.
        Simply put, if you’re comparing RIGHT NOW, Bale’s playing better than Theo and even footballers who’ve played against Bale have admitted that he’s on terrific form- maybe you weren’t watching when Giggs was growing up and winning the PFA young player of the year twice in a row, he was pretty much like this- pacy, mazy and capable of picking a wicked cross, he might’ve been a tad better at finishing but even that is debatable because early on, finishing was Giggs’ big problem.
        Bale’s tottenham’s best player along with Modric and VDV and honestly, I’ll put Cesc, Nasri, Sagna, Song, RVP, Arshavin and maybe even Wilshere and Chamakh ahead of Walcott.
        And please can you guys just stop with crossing stats, the guy’s crosses are extremely dangerous and on-target, its not his fault that their players literally mess his crosses up, I’ve probably seen Crouch whiff on up to 8 good crosses from Bale and he’s not the only one.
        Bale’s quality right now and just cos he’s playing for our small rivals doesn’t change stuff; its the same with Sol, he proved how excellent he really was when he joined us, before that, he’d been playing with undertalented people.

      • desigunner says:

        James,

        I’m not “attempting to compare stats” … I just put the stats for people to see.

        I can see you’re a big bale fan and I’ve nothing against that. But beyond a point your obsession for the player and disregard for facts seems silly. The simple fact is that Bale has been ineffective in far too many games and that is one of the big reasons Spurs are so far behind Arsenal and other top teams in terms of points and goals. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a very good player, he is very good and that is the reason Spuds are doing better than their past efforts.

        You haven’t given any single objective reason to show that Bale is actually far superior to Walcott when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Sorry but you don’t have much credibility if you just try to impose your opinion on others.

      • Furovich says:

        Desi, James isn’t trying to give a “simple definitive reason to show Bale is far superior to Walcott”. As far as I can tell, he’s just trying to point out that stats aren’t a definitive answer to analysing football.

      • desigunner says:

        Furovich,

        I don’t see how anyone can say after reading the article that I’m saying stats are a definitive answer to analyzing football. If I’d to say that I’d have said Walcott is three times better than Bale! I didn’t say that. I clearly stated that the difference between the two is not as big as what we see from these stats. I also acknowledged that in a better team Bale would have better numbers. Sorry to say this but James is insisting that Bale is much better than Walcott and doesn’t have enough to back it up except his opinion.

      • james says:

        Impose my opinions, we’re talking about a guy who completed the most successful dribbles in the premiership last season.
        Check the castrol rankings that actually attempt to do a detailed analysis of a player’s contribution in every aspect of the game; do you know where Gareth Bale is in the world: 57, and where’s theo- 451; they’re separated by almost 400 players so it’s even harder to argue that they are ‘so close together’ in this case and the rankings should be disputed.
        Among midfield players, the guy’s ranked 15 and this is a cumulative, over-the-past-year ranking and HE’S 15 behind players like Nasri, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas.
        So when you talk about objective reasons and go into impact in big games, goals, assists and his unfortunate ability to excite the pundits, maybe you should sit, watch and seriously analyze some Bale games and see if it’s all hype because it isn’t.
        The guy has pace, he almost always beats his man and it’s not true that he spends his time over-crossing the ball, his crosses are powerful, usually centered and make defenders and keepers clumsy; I will point again to the simple truth- Tottenham do not have potent strikers (even Defoe is a poor man’s striker) and this fact has probably contributed to spurs scoring less goals and being behind on points.
        We’ve always scored boat-loads of goals and even a dumb overrated striker (Adebayor) can score many in the Arsenal set-up; this doesn’t all of a sudden make him a world-beater.
        You chose to put this topic up and while I do think both players are ‘nearer’ than most pundits put it (of course, Arsene-hate is nothing new and it’s expected considering how unique we are in the premier league), it should be up to you to provide more stats than minutes, goals and assists to attempt to bring Theo up to Bale’s level now because if and when Theo improves, God know’s who you’ll want to compare him to then; let’s give our players time and I’m sure someone like Theo would come through…

      • desigunner says:

        Sorry but this is getting silly. You offer no time period for the which the Castrol ratings have been done. Walcott was injured for large periods of last season so obviously he is far behind. The stats I have used are for this season and fairly pertinent. There is nothing to show that Bale is better or more effective. There are some aspects of his game where he is better while there are other’s in which Theo is better.

        I can show plenty of examples where Bale wasted possession or didn’t beat his man or wasted his cross. It doesn’t mean anything. For such a player there will always be good moments and bad ones. Ultimately it reflects in the stats even if they’re not perfect.

        It’s lazy to blame the Spuds strikers. Plenty of people don’t rate Bendtner or Chamakh. RvP has rarely played this season. What does that prove? These are all convenient arguments I’m afraid. Anyway I’m bored of this.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ganesh Viswanathan, EpiKnightz. EpiKnightz said: DesiGunner: Bale V Walcott: Have You Been Conned By The Pundits?: Anyone who’s been following the Premi… http://bit.ly/hjvqwF #Arsenal […]

  5. Van heusen jr. says:

    Hahahaha!!! Brilliant! ☻

  6. DeeJayTee says:

    ‘Bale is not British, he is Welsh’….Stone 2011.

    Funniest comment I have read for a while, just shows the level of education and nationalism within the land of his fathers.

  7. Metalhead says:

    I think there is a tendency for the media in England to jump the gun. When Walcott scored a brace in the Champions league (his first or second champions league game) they called him the new Henry. Now, the same guys say he has no brains. Wait for a few months they’ll be saying the same thing about Bale 🙂

  8. DeeJayTee says:

    PS Great post,completely agree. Why that leek eating son of Frankenstein gets the glory while Walcott is seemingly villified at every turn is a complete mystery to me.

  9. Phil23 says:

    I may be biased but i’d take Walcott over Bale any day of the week. Bale may be a great crosser but in England, defenses are built to deal with crosses and long balls easily. That is why imo he is more lethal in European competitions as European tend to be more technical as they aren’t allowed to just consistently foul to make up for a lack of technical ability so time is spent on this instead of countless hours spent defending set pieces etc. Anyway, Walcott will be known as one of the beswt in the world within a couple of seasons where as Bale will only ever be a big name in England as I cant see him leaving Tottenham and I cant see them breaking into the top four with the spots surely being occupied by Arsenal United Chelsea and City. So he won’t be playing too many Champions league games – where truly great players are proven.

    • Phil23 says:

      God I hate my mono-brow weirdo looking face that I have every time I comment…

      • desigunner says:

        You could upload an image of your choice associated with your email at gravatar.com

        That’s how I got the image I like which is a movie character called Gabbar Singh in case you were wondering 🙂

  10. Armory says:

    I thought being Welsh made you British! As in Grate Britain A.I Wales Scotland England NI?

  11. meaner says:

    trying putting Bale in Arsenal team, this guy will fly. Walcott gets more chances than Bale, as such, Walcott seems impressive but that’s not the case.

    • Frank says:

      Walcott gets more chances than Bale? Don’t know about that. This season Walcott has been on the bench longer than Bale, had an injury that kept him out for 7 weeks yet scored 10 goals. Only Arsenal player to score a hat trick this season. Bale in the Arsenal team would be a great thing but I will take Walcott over Bale any day.

    • james says:

      Thanks man, some might label you a spurs fan but that’s exactly what I’m saying, Bale in an arsenal team- especially one with Walcott in it on the other side would be ridiculous, we’ll finally have someone to counter the idiots that stack the box on us because of our patient passing game, Bale’s better than THeo now but Theo’s improving and that’s exactly what Arsene wants.

  12. johnny hoy says:

    This piece is copied from another I saw somewhere. Though the other one was more objective. Bale has been sensational this season – ask Inter Milan. His style of play is not overtly ‘British’ its just excellent and would be seen as such in any league in the world.

    He’s the most exciting player I’ve seen for some time. I’m a lifelong Arsenal supporter.

  13. Rash says:

    Walcott is way better than Bale! Both are very direct and dangerous players but Walcott has more impact and “punch” for his directness. He literally changes a boring game to winning one and if he gets more time playing he’ll be a great player. 🙂

    Good post once again Desi!

  14. joeduke says:

    i think there better crossers of the ball than bale. Ryan giggs n my favourite valencia. Bale is over hyped even when they beat us he was virtualy non existent. Just shows u hw ineffective against a RB dat understands he’s game

  15. Rash says:

    Oh and the pundits?…they are arry’s biatches!

  16. james2 says:

    firstly as a welshman i would prefer not to be classed as british so that suits me down to the ground so no offence taken.

    On the bale story i believe his stats are down to the shortfall of his team mates. when bale does fizz a cross in, as a coach i would be telling my other winger to be hitting the back post to gamble on these crosses but no-one gets there. On the down side i think bale needs to learn when its appropriate to fizz in a cross and when to drift one because of his pace he leaves crouch and pav in his wake and they have no chance of getting there.

    Walcott tries to be a far more efficient user of possesion tring to find a player in the box rather than hopfully whipping in a cross hoping someone is running on to it they are different players (obviously) they have different qualities but i believe theo would be mor useful upfront because of his pace and finishing ability

    • james says:

      Seems like the James’ do have a lot of sense- Bale is a potentially lethal player; yes, he does make impetuous decisions a bunch of times but his crossing ability is phenomenal compared to that of our LBs who for some reason seem to be unable to get the ball past the 1st man.
      Walcott is suited for a striker’s role in future, his lethal finishing and ‘when-the-times-are-good’ lack of hesitance in the box are admirable.
      Truth is how effectively do you compare someone who’s a pure wing player- LB/LW to someone who’s an inside right forward cum striker. It’s very hard to do that with stats only, we should just appreciate each player for what he brings to the table and right now both players are doing extremely well.

  17. clash says:

    Desi, i have been follow your blog for a while now but never bothered to comment. This time, i can resist myself and probably these words are the best that i have read of you.

    On the other hand, Redknapp has a reverse effect on these pundits. He is almost at their level and makes them feel important. They reciprocate by hyping ‘Arry.

    So freaking true.

  18. Showtime says:

    U stole dis post,i read smthin very similar smwer yestday,u cn atleast aknowledge dt in yo post..its a great read anyhow.walcot wud av bn miles ahead by nw had it nt bn 4 o doz injuries..hopfuly he stays fit nw and shows da world wt hz made off

    • Phil23 says:

      No chance at all that it was a coincidence?

    • jack says:

      something very similar comes to so many fans thoughts.it doesnt mean that they are stealing ideas.you need to read to this blog regularly.so many topics are similar that is not stealing

      • HexyDre says:

        I’ve been following this blog for while, I don’t think Desi would ‘steal a post’ or an idea without referencing the original.
        Interesting post BTW, I think Bale is a player in top form right now (and worthy of the hype), I should also add that his stats might have been higher if he had less sh*tty players on his team. However I think Walcott still has much more to offer and I’ll rather have Theo on my team than the Welshman.

  19. emmanuel ezekiel says:

    I think its NICE post however your article seems biased a bit in favour of wallcot as bale has also scored against intermillan in the champions league your article does not cover champs lge

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for sharing that. I had not read that post otherwise I’d have linked to it and covered one or two of the points mentioned in that.

      To those who think this post was copied, well there isn’t much I can say. If you read this blog regularly and think that then I can’t do much more. If you haven’t read this blog regularly then I’d suggest reading some other posts before arriving at that conclusion.

      The germ for this idea came to me when I compared the stats of Bale and Arshavin a few days back in this post,

      https://desigunner.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/just-how-pathetic-have-arsenal-been-this-season/

      Only got the time to write it yesterday.

  20. High-tech says:

    A great post.if scoring against inter is to be considered,then walcott is the better player. He was the reason croatia didnt play 2010 world cup

  21. tahsein says:

    wow,desi!wonderful post!but,what amazed me more than your post is a spuddy cunt’s urge to come here and comment!spuds are just hopeless!

    “Even with my deep seated hatred for the spuds”…ha ha ha!LMAO

    • james says:

      Sadly, there ARE some dumb arsenal fans, guess you’re a member of the unfortunate few; how did your stupid a** feel about Sol Campbell before he came to our squad (and how did your dumb self feel after).
      Gareth Bale is a good player, go watch Giggs in his early days to see who he’s reminiscent off (you probably don’t even watch games and are some fanboy who doesn’t understand the game) and maybe you might say that Giggs isn’t that good cos he’s a Man Utd player- we could and should have been interested in him (especially considering Clichy’s deterioration and Cole’s treachery) and if we had him we’d literally have 4 of the possible best players in Britian’s future in him, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey- 3’s not bad regardless.
      Get a life!!!

  22. Wrenny says:

    Fantastic article, I had to comment because this really put into words a lot of what I have thought about Bale and Walcott.

    Bale is a very exciting player, but looking at the stats you have assembled, is clearly also an inefficient player. The pundits are swayed towards Bale simply by the excitement he provides them, with all the crosses he whips in and the shots he slams from distance, ignoring how wasteful this is and is essentially poor decision making.

    Wenger wants Walcott to become much more than a run-and-cross merchant, it would be a waste of his potential to allow him to turn into a one dimensional speed-demon like Lennon or SWP.

    • desigunner says:

      SWP is an excellent example. And in some ways Young and Lennon as well. All of them have had some great games and have been exciting when they ran at defences. But in the long run that’s not enough to make a big career at a top club.

      Bale is exciting no doubt, but he will have to add a lot more to his game to be truly world class. Walcott has some weaknesses as well but I feel Wenger is taking him in the right direction.

    • james says:

      Your point about what Wenger’s doing for Walcott is on the money but you do realize that Theo’s being groomed into a striker while Bale is playing exactly where he’s probably going to be for life. I’ve said it time and time again, stats are not even up to the half of it. They don’t tell the story you get when you actually watch a match, look around for Maicon’s stats (and to a lower level, Dani Alves’) for the past 5 years, they sometimes don’t tell you how great they are in opening up defenses and making the game easier for the attacking players in any team.
      People haven’t respected Arsenal’s wing play since Pires, Cole and Ljungberg left and that’s why when me meet stacked up middles, we lack ideas because we don’t exactly have the outlets to show them that we can play how you want us to play; we’re always drawn inside and because of this, players get frustrated and we lose games we should not. Imagine if we had this Bale guy who you guys are putting down or if Clichy lived a bit up to what we thought he’d be, Cesc, Nasri and RVP would be so happy because they’d be like “ok, bring 10 men behind the ball and we’ll send a beautiful over-your-head pass to Bale” and then you’ll see who’ll get tired of defending in this game and become prone to mistakes everywhere else”.
      That’s the beauty of a Bale and that’s what pace, power and strong crosses give a team- they promote respect and sometimes even fear.

  23. odiegooner says:

    why d hype on BALE??? the numbers shows he’s no way as good as the hype. Give me Walcott anyday. BALE??? give it a second thought mates.

  24. a99 says:

    great article! Bale is more powerful but Walcott is more technical.

  25. Davi says:

    Good to see the stats back it up so strongly. Bale has massive potential imo, he will never be as good as messi ffs, but he can definitely be an amazing player. The thing is he currently only shows it every 3 games or so.
    I have always questioned walcott’s place in the arsenal side but this season he really looks to have turned the corner. He looks physically stronger but more importantly he is mentally focussed and fully ready for the responsibility of being a first team footballer. He hasn’t played brilliantly in every game, that’s too much to ask anyway, but he has looked an accomplished footballer in every appearance. It’s great to see he has finally got it together and is showing real consistency. He now deserves his place in the starting line-up.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess one of the other causes for criticism of Walcott could be that he’s been in the public eye for a longer period. Bale was a prodigy but wasn’t really hyped up before this season.

      I agree Theo has not always been consistent but given his age and injury problems I feel he deserves much better than the criticism he gets.

  26. Davi says:

    Wrenny – I agree. Aside from his pace, Theo’s best quality is his finishing so he would be wasted as a “run-and-cross merchant”. I think in the coming years he will continue to improve and score some amazing goals. He requires very little backlift to shoot, and he can hit freekicks as well as anyone in our squad, from what I’ve seen.

    • desigunner says:

      Good point about free-kicks. Theo seems to be working on it and I think in a year or two he can develop a lethal free-kick. To be fair, Bale is quite good at it as well.

  27. jack says:

    i think as arsenal fans we all want walcott to be better thats why this article is so much from the heart.i dont know who is better but i think 2 years back walcott too had same hype.only that some people began criticising his crossing.i think arsenal do not play to head crosses .we have different style.maybe bale’s style wudnt be effective in arsenal team.bale might be a better dribbler.but i think walcott is a better finisher.and after all it might be the 1 super season for bale.so many players have 1 fantastic season and then they vanish.bale wudnt do great if he doesnt move to a better club.as for walcott he will be great for arsenal and next couple of years will prove who is the best.

  28. […] more: Bale V Walcott: Have You Been Conned By The Pundits?   Posted in: […]

  29. SoCal_Gun says:

    Couldn’t agree more…..

    Living in California I don’t see Premier League discussions on ESPN or anything, but when I do catch Sky Sports News, look on the internet, or even just listening to match commentary the media bias against Arsenal seems non-stop.

    Both players may be from the same country, but the 2 managers are not. Wenger is 10 times more accomplished then Harry, but it just doesn’t seem like that

  30. ak47 says:

    judge them in may:-)

  31. shakabulagooner says:

    I believe the difference in their games today is down to the team they play for and the coaches they’ve had. Both are progressing very well in adjusting to the system their teams play.

    Bale defends and crosses better than Walcott.

    Walcott gets to finishing and assist positions better than Bale. (In addition to the finishes and assists he’s had, very many times in the games he has played, one has seen him screaming and gesticulating for the ball from very good passing or finishing positions? !!)

    So, except for Bale’s better ball interception stats (i.e. the defending bit), this, I think is what the comparative stats have shown.

    Going forward, Walcott is trying to add more dribbling option, better defending, better choice of end-ball and better drifting to central and even opposite wing areas to his game. He also has to improve on his use of his left foot.

    Bale, in Tiny Tots, may think he is nearer to the finished product in which he will be a slightly better SWP or Lennon whereas, he has all the potential to be as good as if not better than Ryan Giggs. This will require him to come more to the center and to finish better.

    I would not advise Walcott to leave Arsenal in order to improve his football and overall potential as a ball player but were I to have Bale’s ears I would tell him that if ManU comes for him, he should go for it. This, I think is a key difference in their future possibilities.

    Bale and Walcott may be comparable in terms of potential but I think right now, Walcott has a better deal for the future.

    • james says:

      Good analysis man, I don’t know about the Bale to Man U argument lol, I really don’t think we’d want that- instead I’d advise him to pull a Sol Campbell and become truly invisible. Bale in Arsenal (though he’d have to seriously improve his defending) would be ridiculously interesting and would add another dimension to our team

      • desigunner says:

        Can’t Gibbs do what Bale does?

      • james says:

        He’s not as fast, can’t dribble as well and it’s sad to see him get injured so many times; I don’t believe he’s either as great a crosser of the ball (or I guess Wenger just doesn’t allow him to make use of that dimension enough) but I would like Wenger to give him a chance even if it means the end of Clichy- the injury bug he’s carried so far makes that highly unlikely.
        I honestly see Gibbs as a Cole-type player if he builds a great understanding with Nasri and gets a no-nonsense attitude.

    • desigunner says:

      Well said.

  32. Claver says:

    The only thing stopping Walcott from playing brilliantly against ManU is finding the most effective type of movement against Evra, who is a World Class defender.

    Which he will do soon enough!

  33. puppyguts says:

    walcott is miles more valuable than bale, hype from pundits makes no difference.

    there are very few players that are similar to theo if any

  34. kloney says:

    Theo is a better player to be able to think @ his pace with quality finish and assists. Another well-thought piece desi!

  35. Dan says:

    I can’t believe dis,is dis a joke.arsenal fans shld get a life!walcott’ll always b like swp,young,downing,english wingers,no footballing brain as paddle put it.walcott is as gud as richardson.bale is by far better.

  36. Norbu says:

    Interesting article Desi Gunner! Though I’m a Man United fan, I personally have the greatest respect for Arsenal. As far as title rivals are concerned, I would rather have Arsenal challenging United for the title because I grew up watching United (from 1997) being challenged by the great Arsenal sides of of the late ’90s and The Invincibles. Let just say the Man United v Arsenal games of those days never disappointed.

    Coming to your analysis, I agree to your point that Theo gets a hell of a lot of stick from the pundits, which at times I find a bit over-board. They say he’s one-dimensional, and at times I say SO WHAT and of course at times I disagree on so many levels. You were spot on about your comment on Theo having the kind of devastating impact he has on a game. Just ask Wayne Bridge? But as a I rival, the picture I see is that his potential is not being maximized by Wenger. Now this may seem a little strange, because Wenger is a revolutionary in many ways. But let me illustrate this point with an example. Just take a look at the recent Arsenal man City game which Arsenal should have won 5-0. Arsenal, when they are on song play a game which is out of this world. But when they are unable to break top teams down they don’t have a Plan B. In the recent match against City (with 11 men behind the ball for 90 minutes, Shameful!), Arsene persisted with Plan A, which was the intricate one touch stuff, one-two’s, midfielders making runs into the box, etc. The fact remained that City were stubborn, but Arsene instead of letting Theo stay on and torment Zabaleta, took him off and replaced him with Arshavin (woefully out of form) and brought in Bendtner on the left hand side. When teams like City are plugging the gaps in the middle, and with players like Nasri and Walcott on the wings, there is nothing quite like adding width to your game and whipping in balls to the likes of Van Persie and Bendtner (who are good in the air and can win balls in the box). It is old-fashioned wing play, but it works (no matter how big the opposition central defenders are) and with the personnel you guys have, I am surprised Arsene doesn’t mix it up often enough. It is late in these games that you need a Theo, to feed the ball to him and to let him off the leash.

    With regards to Bale, I think the stats you brought out on his game against Chelsea, doesn’t quite reflect the impact he had on the game. Ferriera got tight on him, but Bale ran him ragged and for me the difference between the two (Walcott) is that Bale’s deliveries have greater potency. Bale’s got dimensions to his game which Theo doesn’t quite have. For starters, he’s got a decent heading ability in the box. He’s also got great ability over the dead-ball, and most importantly he’s been scary consistent this season (though I think Rafael Da Silva did a pretty good job on him). This is not just about his passes or crosses, but his movement too. Only if Arsenal started Theo more often, I think we would see some more consistency in Walcott’s game. Sorry for this ridiculously long comment but I had to say it anyway. Cheers.

    • santori says:

      Fair comment mate.

      statistics only tell you half the story (if at that)

    • jasonbeale says:

      bale is more consistant than theo, what is that based on ? desi’s stats prove that theo is more consistant.

      dn’t quite agree with your analysis of the man city game and about our ability to break down top teams. we very rarely play matches were the opposition is not parked in front of there own goal.

      man united
      man city
      chelsea

      all season these teams will play an open positive game but when arsenal turn up we have to deal with parked buses and long balls, the notion that Arsenal need a plan B is just ridiculas, iv got a better idea how about the big teams grow some balls and play football against arsenal.

    • desigunner says:

      Norbu,

      Firstly, I must say thanks for visiting this blog and sharing your views in a respectful and articulate manner. I always like listening to fans of rivals who put in the effort to explain the football points rather than just try for one-upmanship.

      Broadly speaking I agree that Arsenal don’t use the art of crossing very well. There are plenty of games where one feels some good crosses could have tested the opposition defence more. Certainly the Man City game you mention was one of the examples.

      However, I also feel that crossing in general is an inefficient way of attacking. I did an analysis of the City-Everton game in which City lost as they could not break down the parked bus of Everton. Man City tried 33 crosses in that game but only 5 were successful. One could easily argue that they didn’t have a Plan B and couldn’t really create enough.

      There are plenty of teams in the league who cross really well but at the moment Arsenal are top of the goal scoring charts. Again just shows that Wenger has a more effective way. Not perfect but more effective. I’d love some better crosses from Arsenal but would not want to be like Tottenham or other teams who rely excessively on crosses.

      Regd the Chelsea game, I agree Bale troubled Ferreira but wasn’t a lot of that on the counter attack? Bale has not yet played many games where he has been double-teamed. That will be another test for the Welshman.

      Bale does have a good free-kick, something that Theo is working on, and Bale also has a decent header. But so far neither of those skills has led to many goals or we would have seen the impact in the stats.

      Even I’m hoping to see more from Theo. Injuries have been harsh on him.

      Finally, this reply must have allayed any fears you might have had about the length of your comment. Most of us appreciate the effort put in writing such comments. On this blog anyone who makes actual football related points is most welcome.

    • Wrenny says:

      Thank you Norbu, hearing the views of other clubs’ fans is always appreciated.

      I would like to second what Desi has said concerning crosses – it’s an aspect of our game that could certainly be improved, but not something that I envisage becoming a focus of the way we attack.

      But I feel our threat from wide areas has increased this season. Sagna’s crossing has improved, Chamakh gives us more of a threat in the air, and replacing Arshavin with Theo has helped to stretch the opposition and create more space in the centre. As Walcott’s deliveries into the box improve our numbers should only get better. (And the early signs are good, our first two goals against West Ham came from low crosses)

      I believe it’s really just about improving the quality of our wide balls rather than actively looking to cross more often, and doing this throughout matches when the opportunities arise rather than switching to it as a ‘Plan B’ late in games. This will be the way to combat opposition who defend deep and narrow against us, they flood the centre to choke the impact of Cesc but allow us the ball in wide areas as they don’t feel we offer a threat from those positions. Walcott could be key in giving us that threat.

  37. Faisal Ali says:

    James..i understand your not a spurs fan lol but i really blv u dnt watch tottenham games that often..and are restricted to seeing highlights of bale from MOTD….i have bn saying he is over hyped from day 1 ESPECIALLY against inter! Inter have been in the worst possible form and NOT only bale has ripped through them and i suggest you watch the italian league to know what im talking about….plus the stupid benitez literally left maicon on his own to handle bale and i assure u walcott would have done much more damage! And also on the argument that bale pushes defenders back…do u seriously not c what happens when walcott plays?? He strikes way more fear into defences and they ALWAYS double up on him yet he still produces the goods and thats probably due to arsenals interchanging forwards so its hard to compare on that front! I feel bale has more accurate passing/crossing…less injury prone and can defend better but walcott is faster…a better dribler…a better finisher and has better shots from range…also walcott produces against big teams on big nights where as bale only produced against a very weak inter milan team which won only one game in around 13 (i think) during that phase….walcott any day

    • james says:

      Thanks for the MOTD line- pretty funny but also unntrue, Bale’s been playing this way since the beginning of the year and its not only Inter, its almost every team that he’s caused serious trouble for their RBS, and I believe you’re way wrong in your statement that Walcott strikes more fear into defences, I mean are you sure you’ve watched these Arsenal games- of all our players, you’re seriously saying that teams ALWAYS double him as opposed to Nasri???
      As for your other comments, Walcott a better dribbler, produces against big teams lalalala, they’re just you starting to overhype someone who’s coming up well but needs patience and the absence of hype like what you’re doing. Gareth Bale is almost close to his finished product right now and he’s pretty freaking scary; he dribbles way better than Theo, I mean check any stats on successful dribbles and it isn’t clear- the guy can get to the byline, cut inside, cross high and low, please, stop! Theo’s greatest skill is his ability to score, he’s an Owen-lite player that Wenger is trying to imbibe with abilities that are innate to Arsenal players- it was easy to see that at Southampton, they did what most British teams do with a player with that much pace and ignored building up his actual football mindset and that’s why it has taken time for him to gel (including his injuries).
      By the way, Bale played Inter about 2 months ago, they were not bad then, you’re making comments based on how Inter were when Benitez left which was roughly a month ago- get your timelines right.

      • Faisal ali says:

        Spurs played inter on the 20th of oct and again two weeks later….during that month from 20th oct till 20th of nov inter played 6 league games where they lost two drew three and won one game…..thts a pretty bad run! Also you cant deny the presense of walcott pushes defenders back and gives them alot to think about…also on the dribbling comment walcott is much better…all bale does is intelligently kicks e ball past a plyer and whips in a cross which is very effective i must admit….but it does not mean he has quicker feet than walcott when it comes to tricks n dribbling…also walcott DOES produce in big games ie chelsea this year…liverpool a few years back in the champs league…barca last year…even the carling cup final a few years back against chelsea…i really c ur point bale does have this aura about him similar to that of nasri which he recently adopted and many other great players in the game..but imo id much rather have walcott who is still improving than bale who i think cant really get much better…i think your need to be objective and unbias is pushing u to give an enemy more credit than they actually deserve…

      • james says:

        You’re wrong again man, I don’t think you should be counting results after the 2nd spurs game when saying Inter were in a funk (so you won’t count the games before that).
        Inter had won 3, lost 1 and drawn 1 before the first spurs game (i don’t know if that’s called a funk when the loss was to Roma and the draw with Juve). They then drew 1 and won 1 before the loss to Spurs, and one could say the Spurs game started their rot so its a bit dubious to suggest that they were in a ‘pretty bad run’ before playing spurs.
        Walcott is the same dribbler as Bale and worse at it; both of them aren’t Nasri, that’s clear.
        Your aura comment sits well with me and about who I’d choose, it pains me to say Bale but that’s only because of Clichy’s mediocre couple of seasons and I think it’d take us to another dimension if we had a different type of player at our LB (he’ll have to improve as a defender imo).
        The only reason I give the so-called ‘enemy’ that much credit is because I’m seeing something similar to Giggs and although I hated it during those days, I recognized it as truth, many Arsenal fans hated Giggs back in the day but it’s only now that we ‘accept’ that he’s this great player, football eventually ends up being much more than fandom, thankfully we’ve had a great ride as Arsenal fans (even with Arsene’s recent shortcomings).

  38. […] Bale V Walcott: Have You Been Conned By The Pundits? Anyone who’s been following the Premiership this year will undoubtedly have heard rave reviews about Bale. Many […] […]

  39. achilles says:

    Gr8 post desi. I’d like u to knw i always enjoy your analysis and i mean all of it as i rarely ever miss any. However, i dont usually comment because by the time i’m done readin d comments, i discover that all i would hv wanted to say hv been said. And some in a very funny way too. More greese man.

  40. mikeyg says:

    It’s funny how people just say Bale is better without being able to put any evidence forward.

    For the 2010-11 season Walcott was way ahead of Bale on most stats such as goals, assists, chances created, pass completion but Bale was somehow POFY.

    In fact Gareth Bale didn’t even come in the top 20 wide players in the Premier League last season.

    In terms of goals and assists, overall, Nani came out top, with Ashley Young 2nd and Malouda 3rd. Walcott was the 6th best wide player and Gareth Bale came 26th.

    If we take into account the number of games each player played Nani was still top, effective in 84% of games, Walcott came 2nd here being effective in 64% of Premier League games. Gareth Bale on the otherhand was way down in 28% effective in only 28% of games.

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