UNDERSTANDING THEO WALCOTT AND THE VALUE HE BRINGS TO ARSENAL
Hello again folks. If you are getting anxious waiting for our next arrival, I have an idea. How about a brief distraction to help us kill some time and calm the nerves? While we anticipate our next signing, I think it is crucial that we resolve the status of one of our most polarizing but useful strikers. I am talking about our very own Theo Walcott. The reason we need to resolve Walcott’s place in our club is because I am genuinely surprised at the percentage of Arsenal fans that want him gone and we need to support our players.
So why do Arsenal need Walcott? There are two kinds of players in every team. There is the first team player and then there is the squad player who can cope with being second choice. To get the balance right in team building, you need your squad players. Nobody wins a title with eleven players, even if those eleven players are as gifted as Lionel Messi. So when folks keep saying we should sell Walcott or Elneny or Coquelin, I always find myself asking the same question. If you sell your bench players, who will be on the bench? At the moment, we all want to see either Thomas Lemar or Riyad Mahrez in an Arsenal jersey. Me too. But none of these hot shots will settle for life on the bench. Let us say we get Thomas Lemar for instance. That will leave us with four first team attacking players in Alexander Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Lemar. Can anybody guess the problem we will face with these four players? That’s right, in our new formation of 3 – 4 – 3, there are only three positions for these four players. That means one of them is going to sit on the bench because Lemar is a winger. We cannot pay all that money for him and then play him out of position, either as a wing back or a defensive midfielder.
So who will be on the bench? Is it Sanchez, our best left winger and overall best player/goalscorer? Or Lacazzette, the prolific front man we have been looking for who cost a club record 53 million pounds? Will it be Mesut Ozil, the 42.5 million pound visionary and best chance creator in the whole of Europe? How about Thomas Lemar, the guy tipped to finally succeed Alexis Sanchez? Mind you, depending on which reports you believe, Lemar is set to cost us somewhere between 48 and 80 million pounds. You don’t spend that kind of money on a guy and put him on the bench. That is precisely why Real Madrid has not closed the deal for Kylian Mbappe. Our playing system has changed and Walcott is no longer a starter and he is okay with having to fight for his place. He is not sulking or threatening to leave. Lucas Perez has only been in Arsenal for one season and he is already looking for a new club because he has refused to accept his new position as a bench warmer and utility player. Olivier Giroud is itching to leave as well with our purchase of Lacazette. That is point number one.
Secondly, how many wingers in Europe do you know who can have a bad season and score 19 goals? I cannot think of anyone. In Mourinho’s last season at Chelsea, Eden Hazard, his best player, had a miserable season and scored something like seven or eight goals. Straight out from winning the league two seasons ago, Riyad Mahrez, the one-time player of the year, had a horrendous season and scored four goals. His club have put a 50 million price tag on his head.
Our very own Alex Oxlade Chamberlain had his best season in the 2015/2016 campaign and he is now so big headed that he will not sign a new contract. Mind you, Ox scored only three goals in this best season of his. Theo Walcott on the other hand is a guy who typically has a questionable season riddled with criticism, injuries and cameo appearances and yet, in some really strange way, he manages to get somewhere between 14 and 20 goals a season no matter what. He also cost us around 15 million pounds and is willing to be on the bench. And that is the guy many of you want sold? And replace him with who? Theo’s replacement will cost a fortune and will not sit on the bench. And he may not even score as many goals as Walcott under similar circumstances. You see, this is precisely why football fans shouldn’t manage football clubs. We all have opinions and we are all wonderful armchair critics whose opinions will never get put to the test. That is one luxury that actual football managers don’t have.
Last time I checked, Sanchez, Ox and Giroud all want to leave and Ozil has not signed a new contract. But who do we want sold? Walcott, the most loyal of them all. Isn’t it funny how fans bitch about the lack of player loyalty these days and yet we cannot even reciprocate that loyalty towards our most loyal player? Theo has been with us for ten years and counting. When Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie all left us, Theo stayed and his goals carried our team even as Podolski and Giroud struggled to find their scoring boots. How easily we forget!
Many accuse Walcott of not defending which is a bit strange because you cannot buy a Ferrari and begrudge it for not hauling cargo like a truck. Strikers can only do so much defending or they will lose their offensive potential. The clinical Lukas Podolski had that problem and Welbeck is having it too. Look, I get it. Walcott can be infuriating! He is wasteful, predictable, cannot dribble and gets bullied off the ball so easily. But you know what else he is? He is that guy with the best movement in the opposition box who doesn’t have to play well to score goals and takes the game to the opposition when folks are busy passing the ball sideways. He is also humble, loyal, a team player and will not sulk when benched. Find me a squad player today as good as Walcott who will cost 15 million pounds, battle a myriad of injuries and still score 15 to 19 goals a season coming off the bench oftentimes. Find me that winger and you will have an argument. Until then, Walcott stays because quite frankly, he is irreplaceable. Peace.
Lagos – Nigeria