GETTING THE BEST OUT OF WALCOTT by Uche
We have a striking problem and Gunners everywhere have blamed Olivier Giroud for this. We are disappointed in him because we believe we can do better. That is the main issue really because Olivier is not a bad player at all. Coming into a club that has been blessed with spectacular forwards in the past twenty years such as Ian Wright, Kanu Nwankwo, Nicolas Anelka, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie, Olivier Giroud certainly had big boots to fill.
Two seasons ago, Giroud led the line for us and for more than half of that season, we topped the table until our spectacular fall from grace which coincided with Giroud’s loss of form. The manager ran him to the ground because he had no help. Wenger had the opportunity to get us our first premier league trophy in ten years and the least he could do was to loan a centre forward to help Giroud out that season. But as we have come to expect from him, he screwed that up too by turning up with an injured midfielder instead. We all know how that ended.
So we never really replaced the Henrys and Van Persies and as the frustration grows, that anger is gradually being transferred to a certain Theo Walcott as well. But here is my two cents on Walcott. He is a very good player. Like most forwards these days, he has his strengths and weaknesses. Is he your typical centre forward? Not really. He lacks height and strength and doesn’t keep the ball well. But he makes these up with his pace, incredible movement around the box and an amazing shooting ability. Theo has played as a winger for us for ten years now. Are we really right in dumping all our anger on him when we should be mad at Wenger for not getting us a proper number nine?
Walcott is a winger that we are trying to convert into a central striker and he has had very limited time to get used to the role. It is strange that Giroud has had three seasons as our centre forward and Walcott has only had three or four games in that position and yet the jury is already out on Walcott’s ability to play there. That is not a fair assessment of his abilities as a centre forward. Theo needs time to get used to that role and I know that we don’t really have the time because the season has started and every point is crucial. But the signs have been promising. Walcott was unplayable against West Brom with his hat trick and he was just as damaging against Aston Villa in the FA Cup final. So there is something there.
So what do we do? Except we sign a proper central striker in the next 48 hours, I say we keep giving Walcott regular games. When he is not playing as a centre forward, he should be played on the right wing. Say what you will but Theo remains our best right winger by a mile. I see no reason why we cannot have a forward line of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott if Walcott is not playing as central striker. So it is up to the boss to get his balance right and give Walcott the games that he needs. Putting him on the bench and playing Ramsey as a winger will not aid Walcott’s return to form. We have a limited number of strikers and an abundance of midfielders. I would think that if anything, getting our strikers back in form will be Wenger’s priority. Instead, he is stuck with trying to accommodate his favorite midfielders in one’s starting eleven. You can blame our poor start to the season on Wenger’s experiments. Sanchez is yet to hit form after playing a million games and Giroud is yet to overcome the goal drought that befell him towards the end of last season. Welbeck is injured and Oxlade Chamberlain is not a frequent goal scorer. Walcott on the other hand ended last season with a bang and what does Wenger do? Rather than playing him to ensure he continues his good form, he puts him on the bench. How does that aid his confidence?
If we are serious about winning games, Walcott, Like Sanchez, must be in any starting eleven we come up with right now and he doesn’t have to play as central striker. I repeat, he doesn’t have to play as central striker. In his last season with us, Van Persie scored 37 goals. Walcott created the most assists for him. If Theo is not scoring, he can be sending quality crosses in for Giroud to latch unto. Everybody knows that Giroud cannot create his own chances so why not pair him with a guy who can create for him? After Van Persie left, Walcott was our go-to guy when we needed goals that season and he got us 21 goals in all competitions playing as a winger and coming off the bench in most of those games. Even with our lack of signings, this team has goals in it. A front line of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott with Ozil behind them is a really dangerous one. Rather than us going on about how Walcott is rubbish up front, blame Wenger for not knowing how to get the best out of what is a very good team. Here’s to hoping the boss comes to his senses and starts our best goal getters in his first eleven. His poor player selection is costing us.
Ramsey should be rotating with Cazorla, not Walcott. Peace.
Lagos – Nigeria