Walcott: My double-act with RvP was born in our Sicknote days
Published 23:00 13/03/12 By John Cross
Theo Walcott says he struck up his special relationship with Arsenal team-mate Robin van Persie while they were laid up on the club's treatment tables.
Walcott has provided 10 assists this season, including laying on Van Persie’s 33rd goal of the campaign against Newcastle on Monday.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants to reward the England winger with a new long-term contract for his contribution to the deadly double act, which was born as both players were enduring frustrating injury lay-offs.
Now, the pair are enjoying injury-free seasons and Arsenal are reaping the benefits, overcoming a sticky start to get within a point of third place - and the automatic spot in next season's Champions League group stage that goes with it - with 10 games to go.
Walcott, who has one of the best records for assists in the Premier League (see below), smiled: “We have had a lot of years on the treatment beds! He has always been there and I have always been there, so this is maybe the second year that we have had a run together in the team.
“Everything is going his way and that is great to see. The most important thing is that Robin is injury free. It is great to see him when he is not injured.
“When I was on the treatment bed alongside his, it was such a shame to see so much talent wasted. He has made up for lost time. He has to be Player of the Year for me.
“Hopefully, in the future, I would like to play up front with him, but if I am setting up goals then that is the most important thing.
"He is tucking them away and the team is winning so I can only ask for one thing.”
Van Persie is now one of the best strikers in Europe, and knows he owes much to Walcott’s crossing, passing and runs.
The Arsenal skipper has often paid tribute to his team-mate and clearly appreciates him, even if Walcott’s critics do not notice his role in making the Dutchman one of the most prolific goal-getters in the world.
Walcott added: “It means so much just to be on the pitch with him. When he says those words of praise when I’m right next to him, it makes me so happy.
“If he’s enjoying what I am doing then that is the main thing. If the staff and the coaches are happy, that’s all I want.”
Walcott and Van Persie shared plenty of time in the treatment table together.
Both had ankle injuries, while Van Persie also endured an Achilles problem and Walcott damaged knee ligaments.
But if those hours and days on the sick-list were frustrating, then maybe they have also made the duo more determined to come back stronger.
Arsenal are certainly showing new energy, having set a Premier League record against Newcastle by winning their fourth consecutive game after going behind.
The Gunners are within a point of rivals Tottenham in third, despite a turbulent season which has also been the case for Walcott.
The England winger took stick from Arsenal fans in the first half against Spurs last month, before giving the perfect response with two goals which earned him a standing ovation when he came off.
Walcott added: “The fans are entitled to their opinions but I just wanted to score those two goals [against Spurs] for the fans to be honest.
“It’s been an up-and-down season but they are passionate, just like us.
"We try and play well every game, but if it’s not happening then you just have to try to forget about that.
“In the Tottenham game I did, and since then I’ve just been expressing myself. I’m enjoying playing football at the moment, I’m still only 22 (23 on Friday), so there is still a lot to come from me, I’m sure.
“I feel great. I’ve never played so much on a consistent level for 90 minutes.
"It obviously helps when the team is winning as well, that is important. The confidence just flows through the whole team."
THE BRUISE BROTHERS: WALCOTT AND VAN PERSIE'S INJURIES
2006-07: Shoulder injury inhibits his performances.
2008-2009: Dislocates right shoulder while on England duty in November. Operation keeps him out until April.
2009-10: Persistent back, shoulder, knee and hamstring problems keep him out for much of the season and cost him a World Cup place.
2010-11: Ankle injury keeps him out of Carling Cup Final and decisive second leg of Champions League defeat by Barcelona.
Robin van Persie
2004-05: His first year at Arsenal is cut short by injuries.
2005-06: Broken toe, which needs specially-adapted boot.
2006-07: Misses much of second half of the season with metatarsal injury suffered after scoring winner against Manchester United.
2007-08: Persistent injury problems force him to sit out much of the second half of the season.
2009-10: The season when he spent longest time with Walcott in treatment room, after injuring ankle while on international duty with Holland in Italy. Comes back just in time for the final league games and the World Cup.
2010-11: Another ankle injury forces him to miss nearly three months before Christmas. Injured in the Carling Cup Final, he rushes back to face Barcelona, only to be sent off.
PREMIER LEAGUE ASSISTS SINCE START OF 2010-2011 SEASON
David Silva 19
Ashley Young 17
Theo Walcott 15
Robin van Persie 15
Ryan Giggs 14
Chris Brunt 14
Didier Drogba 14
Andrey Arshavin 14
Charlie Adam 14
Wayne Rooney 14