Arsenal fans have grown used to Arsene Wenger chopping and changing his starting line up over the years, but his brand new policy of keeping a settled first team in place has seen Le Prof field the same Starting XI in six games in a row, the first time that has ever happened since he became Arsenal manager.
This new departure has thus excluded the recovering Theo Walcott a place in the team, but the England winger will have been heartened by the fact that Wenger has given him half an hour of playing time against both Swansea and in yesterday’s game at Old Trafford. The change paid off against Man United as Walcott has claimed that he scored the winner, even if it was really a deflection, and is hoping that Wenger will now consider starting him in the FA Cup Final at the end of the month.
“I’ve been very patient coming back from injury.” Walcott said after the game. “It always takes time to come back from injury but I know that I’m ready in training, I just need more match minutes. As a substitute, you need to be positive and need to be focused as well because you may get a chance and when you do, you have to take it. It was a great result with us and I’m happy with the goal.
“Of course it was mine! You’ve got to take whatever you can get. It’s an important game and I’m definitely claiming it…
“When you come to Old Trafford and get a positive result.. We know we didn’t play great but we finished very strong which shows how fit we are as a team. Going into the last two games we know we only need one more point. It’s going to hurt United but it feels like a win for us.”
Theo was then asked how it felt to be left on the sidelines for so long before being given another chance by Wenger, and he replied: “It’s always tough but I feel like I’m part of the squad. It’s nice to be back amongst the squad. I had a year out and sometimes it takes that long to get back into the team.
“The manager was patient with me and I’ve been patient with myself as well. I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself by expecting to be where I was before I got injured. I feel like I’m getting stronger, quicker and there’s a couple more games so hopefully I can stake my claim to play the FA Cup final.
“You have to ask the manager about that but hopefully I’ve done enough.”
Arsenal have two more League games in the next week, so I am sure that Wenger will be making a few changes on Wednesday, but should Wenger give Walcott the chance to play the whole 0 minutes? I don’t think that two half hour cameo appearances are really enough to prove his match-fitness just yet….