• Manager was poised to take off player after abuse from fans
• Striker stays on pitch to score two against Tottenham
Theo Walcott departed Arsenal's defeat of Tottenham with the home support chorusing his name but with an admission from his manager, Arsène Wenger, that he had considered substituting the winger as Arsenal trailed and he was the subject of abuse from his own fans.
The 22-year-old had laboured to make an impact through this derby's early exchanges and sections of the home crowd targeted him as a focus of their frustration.
Walcott, whose form has suffered over recent months, appeared to buckle under the pressure when, with his side 2-0 down, he was gripped by indecision when offered the chance to tear at goal and his lack of confidence was exposed by a weak attempt to liberate Robin van Persie instead.
Yet, from that mishmash of a performance, Walcott somehow recovered his poise, particularly after half-time, to register a brace of finishes reminiscent of his eye-catching hat-trick for England in Zagreb in September 2008. They were the winger's first Premier League goals at the Emirates Stadium since December 2010. "The crowd was starting to get on his back," said Wenger, "so you do wonder if you are doing him a favour by leaving him on.
"But I felt that he has the qualities we needed, that considering the rest of the team are hiding [among bodies in-field] he is a player who can be straight, direct and can go behind the defenders. Nobody else is like that. He is a very direct player and you know that sometimes he can miss a first touch but still, considering the balance of our team, I felt it was important to keep him in the side."
The performance and the smartly taken finishes across the Spurs goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, will have been noted by the interim England manager, Stuart Pearce, who was present here. Walcott has been used by Pearce as a central striker in the England Under-21s and he could yet be considered there for the seniors against Holland at some stage on Wednesday night given the withdrawals of Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent from the squad over the weekend.
"You have to get on with the game," said Walcott when asked about the vocal criticism from the stands. "When things are not going too well I can hold my hands up. I didn't have the greatest of first halves. But it just shows the character, not just mine but that of the team.
"It was about trying to forget about that and work hard in the second half and, if you do that, hopefully good things will come to you. It happened for me. Even so, coming off and looking at that result feels unreal."
Harry Redknapp, who had worked with the young Walcott during his spell with Southampton, was deflated in defeat but less surprised by the Arsenal winger's sudden transformation from boo-boy target to match winner. "That's football, isn't it?" said the Tottenham Hotspur manager.
"People are fickle. He's a good player, a player of real talent. I gave him his debut and he's a fantastic talent. His run for the third goal … was it the third goal? I've lost track of the goals, to be honest, but he ran 80 yards to get on the ball [from Van Persie]. Not many people could do that."
The Spurs manager suffered his own abuse, as did his assistant Joe Jordan, from some home fans behind the dug-out and appeared to single one out in discussions with a steward. "It was only one idiot," said Redknapp. "Just one guy, so it was nothing really."