Theo Walcott, since his return from injury, has found his place in the team occupied by others. It is not unusual in a top team to find players with considerable quality somewhat sidelined, but I have to admit Theo’s is a very curious case. I say this, because, if you take everything into consideration and analyse what each player (competing for that spot) brings to the table, then I can’t help but feel for him. Let us have a look at each player in detail.
Signed for 16M from Manchester United, Welbeck’s transfer to Arsenal was undoubtedly the surprise of the summer. When he arrived many (if not most) felt that Arsene had pulled another Andre Santos. Some believed that the gaffer could extract the Thierry Henry from him. Only time will tell who is right but for now, this is my honest assessment of his abilities.
Welbeck is a striker with several qualities that give him the potential to be a world beater. First and foremost has to be his spirit and mentality. He is always willing to run himself to the ground for the team. He is also very quick and is always looking to take on players. There’s is also the fact that, on occasion, he produces a deft flick or a jaw dropping turn that leaves his marker clueless. His movement off the ball is very good too. Danny is also a very good finisher/striker of the ball (I will explain). He is also strong and quite good in the air. However, my main issue with Danny is his decision making. Danny is a very good finisher but he always seems to make the wrong decision, especially inside the opposition box. Taking an extra touch when he should have pulled the trigger, going for goal when he should have squared it for a team mate, going for power over placement & vice versa. He is also very poor on his chocolate foot. For me, all these negatives can be attributed to age and can be ironed out in time. in the CF position.
Wenger said that the reason he likes playing strikers on the wing in the initial stages of their development is so that they can build their stamina, learn how to beat players, learn how to operate in tight spaces and learn how to finish from different angles in front of the goal. Thing is, Danny already has all that. Decision making is what is lacking. The way to remedy that is to give him more playing time up front, so that he gets more scoring chances and eventually the composure will come. It is no wonder he has scored for us when he played as the main striker. It is also no wonder he scores as much as he does for the national team. I do not for a minute expect him to oust Giroud from that line up but rather to be his understudy.
The reason for this post: an in form Theo is (and I have said this time and time again) one of our best finishers, if not the best. And on top of that, his off the ball movement is top drawer meaning when we have him in the side we are always going to get clear cut chances. This is evidenced by the number of one on one chances he has been failing to convert while still recovering his match fitness (normally about 3-5 a game). What’s even more is that he has an understanding of how Arsenal play. He has developed an on the field understanding with Giroud, Santi, Ozil and even in the few times they’ve played together, Sanchez.
Sure, he may not have the defensive output that Sanchez or Welbeck have, but if Ozil was given the chance to learn, why can’t he? The truth is Walcott will never play through the middle, but we have found a system that suits him even better. Considering his passing and crossing ability (ask RVP) playing him on that right flank with the freedom to roam, alleviates him of the physical responsibility of a traditional winger, which allows him to thrive. I mean three goals in five starts for a player who missed an entire calendar year of football is more than just impressive. I think before we call for his head, let us give him a chance to get back to the form he showed before he got injured.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
For me this is the player who should be competing with Theo for that spot on the right wing. He is one of our most improved performers. His pace, dribbling ability and tenacious attitude make him a nightmare for any defence. I actually believe that as long as Theo isn’t match fit, he should be our starter out wide. He can even slot in for Alexis when he runs out of steam. All he needs to work on is his goal scoring and his final balls (passes) and he will be unstoppable.
In comparison to seasons past, Arsene has improved his squad rotation tactics but I still feel he isn’t there yet. Ideally a team with as many players as we do should not have instances where some players suffer from fatigue, or fatigue related injuries and others languish on the bench. How is it that Ozil & Cazorla both get tired when we have TR7? Yet in the same team, Monreal and Gibbs both have played enough games thanks to rotation. Rather than push Welbeck out wide where he is less effective, why doesn’t Arsene rotate him & Giroud at CF? If they both were to get injured/tired we would have to play a false 9. He can do the same for Ozil & Santi to give each a breather once in a while.
Honestly I feel losing Theo would be a decision we would live to regret, especially if we sold him to a rival. He still can make our attack even deadlier than it is now. Give him a chance.