My previous post (in which I pointed out our need for improvement) was inspired by performances such as that against Crystal Palace. We were very lucky to leave with three points and in my opinion, given the squad we have, these aren’t words that should be coming out of my mouth – much less against such opposition. Anyway, the important thing is we got the three points and I’m hoping we have taken the lessons from that game.
My post today comes from a very curious place. I have noticed that Welbeck & the Ox have been getting the nod over Theo despite the fact that he is one of our team’s best finishers. Interestingly, when I watched Welbeck play against the Spuds, I thought to myself that Theo is in a very precarious position right now. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but the more I see how our team is playing the more I fear for him.
Apart from Sanchez, I doubt there is a better finisher in our team than Theo. The problem is he offers very little when we are chasing possession. You watch how hard the Ox, Welbz, Alexis (obviously), Santi & even Ozil work to win back possession, and you begin to see Theo in a new light. In truth, he doesn’t work hard enough for the team. When we don’t have possession Theo is more of a ‘lurker’. He lurks around waiting for one of his team mates to win back possession and he sparks into life. Mesut Ozil learned the hard way but is now one of our 4 top performers.
What makes this situation even more ominous is that these days we aren’t the Arsenal who used to dominate games from minute zero to 90. In a game like against Crystal Palace, Theo’s shortcomings would have been laid bare for all to see. On top of that, he would be playing opposite Alexis whose work rate would put him to shame. When we signed Alexis we signed someone who would take our team to a new level. He is simply an inspirational character. That is why some of our players have taken their games up a notch.
To be fair to Theo, he missed a whole year of football. Arsene Wenger said (and rightly so) that the pre-injury Theo was the best he had ever seen and that is why I am still backing him to regain his place in the starting 11. That said he can’t afford to rest on his laurels. When Theo got injured he left a team that was to some extent dependent on him and his goals, but he returned to find a team with stars everywhere on the field. He no longer can waltz into the team like he used to.
I still believe that Theo will get back to his best and reclaim his place. He will find that doing that isn’t as easy as he may have imagined. And who can complain when everyone in the team is making each other better?