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Rating Arsenal’s Strikers’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Arsenal scored 105 goals in the 2014/15 campaign which was a truly magnificent feat.

Gooner Daily analyses the strikers that contributed to that tally

Lukas Podolski (13 appearances, three goals)

Podolski is quite a lovable character off the pitch but on it, he hasn’t been given a chance to prove his worth this season. Whether its simply a case of the manager not having faith in him or the forward not being good enough, it was rather strange. Nonetheless, he scored his three goals in two Champions League games before departing to Inter on loan.

Rating: 4/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (36 appearances, three games)

This was a very productive season for the Ox. Ceasing on the opportunity created with Theo Walcott out injured, the Ox featured consistently on the right wing and earned plaudits for his direct style of play even though his end product was quite questionable.

The English speedster made his mark in the North London derby and scored two goals in the Champions League. One of his most telling contributions this season came in Old Trafford when he made mincemeat out of some Manchester United defenders before providing a neat pass to Nacho Monreal. The rest they say was history.

Rating: 7/10

Yaya Sanogo (20 appearances, one goal)

Wenger has shown some measure of faith on this lad but many fans (me included) do not believe that he has what it takes to be in an ambitious club like Arsenal. Maybe I’m wrong but I need Sanogo to prove me wrong. In 20 apps for the Gunners, he managed to score his first goal for the club against Dortmund. He was farmed out on loan to Crystal Palace and scored a goal in 11 appearances for the Eagles.

Rating: 4/10

Theo Walcott (19 appearances, six goals)

It’s never easy being out of the game for so long, especially when things were going well for you before the unfortunate incident happened. Since his return to full fitness, Walcott was introduced slowly into the squad and got a couple of goals but there was a period he was frozen out of the squad.

The hat-trick he bagged against West Brom would give his manager something to think about ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup final.

Rating: 7/10

Joel Campbell (10 appearances, no goal)

After a long wait for him to return to the squad, Campbell finally made his Arsenal debut but failed to make any real impact in the course of the season. He was used a make-weight in getting Gabriel Paulista to North London. In 20 appearances for the Yellow Submarine, he managed to score a goal.

I don’t see him returning to the squad though. He’s clearly not good enough.

Rating: 3/10

Danny Welbeck (34 appearances, eight goals)

Arsenal’s transfer deadline day signing, Welbeck, hit the ground running with a scintillating hat-trick against Galatasaray and did his bit to contribute to Arsenal’s course this season.

He reached his pinnacle this season when he scored the goal that sent Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Yes, there were the misses but Welbz is a player that can improve greatly in the future and he can look back at his achievements this season with some measure of pride.

Rating: 7/10

Olivier Giroud (35 appearances, 18 goals)

The usually-fit Giroud suffered a freak injury at the start of the season and missed a large part of the first half of the season. In his return to fitness, he hit a hot streak of goalscoring form that also saw him win his first BPL Player of the Month award.

Following some comments by ex-Gunner, Thierry Henry, Giroud’s confidence was hit hard and he went on a goal drought that he has quite concerning. With the FA Cup final on the horizon, Arsene Wenger is faced in a dilemma on whether to use to Frenchman in poor form or a Walcott that just scored a hat-trick.

Rating: 8/10

Alexis Sanchez (51 appearances, 24 goals)

Sanchez has been a revelation since signing for the club. His exemplary performances has also rubbed off on his teammates and he’s a no-brainer to win the Player of the Season award.

Rating: 10/10

Sayonara

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Theo Walcott Gives Wenger Something to Think About

Theo Walcott

Arsenal 4 (Walcott 5′, 14′, 37′, Wilshere 17′) – West Brom 1 (McAuley 57′)

Match ReportMatch Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Following his positive cameo performance against Sunderland a few days ago, Theo Walcott must have been hoping that he had at least done enough in the final League game of the season against a West Brom side that had secured their Premier League status weeks ago. Walcott got his wishes when Arsene Wenger chose to select him in the middle ahead of Olivier Giroud, that has been really shite lately.

In just 37 minutes, Walcott sealed a magnificent hat-trick that earned him a rapturous ovation when Giroud replaced him in the second half. Wenger had a lot to say about Walcott in the press conference (via Arsenal.com),

“He was already sharp when he came on in our midweek game against Sunderland. He was the one who created the chances and I always said that he could play through the middle because he has good movement, good finishing and he did that well today. He’s a good goalscorer but he has been out for a year. A year in football is a long, long time and it takes more time to come back to your best so that you are sharp and confident. Jack is a bit similar. He has been out for six months and now he is coming back. He had a very convincing performance in the first half.

He’s the right age [to play through the middle]. He’s 26 years old, it’s a good age for a footballer. I wish that he stays free of injuries now. He had a few downs on the injury front and that’s never good. You have to be consistently present to express your full potential. Without his hat-trick or with his hat-trick, we want him to stay. We are in negotiations and we have started to speak with his agent. We did that before he scored his hat-trick. Last time he got injured he was playing centre forward in a very convincing game against Tottenham Hotspur in January. He got injured and was out for a year. On that day he was injured playing up front.”

The road to recovery hasn’t been an easy one for Walcott that has had to contend with a career-threatening injury as well as coming back into a team in good vein of form. However, Walcott must have felt really bad losing his place to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as well as Aaron Ramsey, that was deployed on the right wing ahead of the Englishman. With his goalscoring haul in the weekend, will Wenger be tempted to hand him a start against Aston Villa in the FA Cup final?

Walcott actually played through the middle, a position that has been occupied by Giroud all season long but he somehow can’t seem to add to the 17 goals he notched up in such quick succession. Whether Walcott plays in the middle or on the flanks, it’s going to be interesting to see how Wenger manages the situation.

Well, that’s what he’s paid to do.

Sayonara.

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Is Walcott’s Future in Doubt after Bust-Up with Wenger?

With international football taking center stage, I took out some time to see what some nations had to offer on the pitch. Nigeria hosted Uganda in the beautiful Akwa Ibom Stadium and the game was fondly remembered for Vincent Enyeama reaching his 100th cap. The goalie has served the country for 13 years and he has produced moments of sheer quality and consistency over the years. However the party was spoiled when some Ugandan bloke scored the onlygoal of the match to continue Nigeria’s winless streak in the stadium.

Moving on to things related with Arsenal, the forgotten fringe figure, Lukas Podolski, scored in Germany’s 2-2 draw with Australia. Mesut Ozil played the entire game and even wore the captain’s armband for 30 minutes when Sami Khedira was substituted. Elsewhere, the World’s Best striker, Lord Nicklas Bendtner scored a hat-trick in Denmark’s 3-2 win over the United States. Yes, I know that the Lord has left the club but some Arsenal fans (me included) follow his progress in VFL Wolfsburg and we were happy to see the Lord find the net in his last appearance for the German outfit.

England takes on Lithuania tomorrow in an important European qualifier and it would be interesting to see who Roy Hodgson would line up in his starting eleven but from an Arsenal perspective, we would be watching closely to see what Kieran Gibbs, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott would bring to the table.

Speaking of Walcott, he has been on the news recently when Football Talk published a piece that he had a training bust up with Arsene Wenger and that can see things turn sour in terms of his future with the club. At the time Walcott signed his last contract, he was indispensable to the club, scoring important goals and he was requesting for a run-out in the middle instead of the right wing berth he had made his own. Wenger actually heeded to his demands and he put up some hot and cold performances spearheading Arsenal’s attack with his last game as a center forward coming up in the North London derby in January.

Following a poor challenge from Danny Rose, Walcott suffered an ACL injury and things have turned for the worse since then. Off the pitch, he got married to his heartthrob and things seemed all peachy and creamy but since his return to full fitness, he has featured sporadically for the club. Walcott has managed score three goals in his handful of appearances this season but he has gone further down the pecking order with Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain favored ahead of him. When the Gunners played Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Wenger preferred to play Welbeck that just returned from injury ahead of Walcott.

It’s quite evident that Wenger has some faith in the English speedster. Another classic example came in the FA Cup quarterfinal victory over Manchester United. When the Ox suffered that hamstring injury, Walcott has stripped and was ready for action, only for the manager to change his mind and bring on Ramsey, much to the frustration of Walcott.

Then there’s the niggling issue of his contract situation. Walcott currently has 15 months left on his current deal (100,000 per week) that made him one of the highest earners at the club before the likes of Ozil and Alexis came along. That was a protracted saga that went on for quite some time before both parties mutually agreed on a forward path. Now we are faced with a similar situation, and it seems as if Arsenal is gearing themselves to make a decision on Walcott’s future this summer. The player himself might be disgruntled but he has three plausible options,

  • Sign a new deal and fight for his place in the team
  • Chicken out and decide to move elsewhere or,
  • Sit out his fat contract and leave on a Bosman.

Arsenal will certainly not want to be left with option three so the club would want to do what they can to retain his services or sell him to the highest bidder. Right now, Wenger needs every player he can get at his disposal as the team is charging for a strong finish in the Premier League as well as defending their FA Cup crown.

Walcott remains an important asset to the team and we would nice his services between now and May.

I don’t know what the future holds for him though.

Sayonara.

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Walcott Back in Training: How Much Did Arsenal Miss Him?

Walcott Gnabry

At the end of the 2012/13 season, Theo Walcott had scored 21 goals and created 13 assists – his best output in all his footballing years. This ultimately meant that there was a new wave of expectation surrounding the Arsenal star at the start of last season.

Walcott began the 2013/14 campaign at a rather slow pace in terms of his output in the final third, with his assist to Olivier Giroud in the North London Derby being his most telling contribution in the early part of the campaign. He finally broke his goalscoring duck with a technically astute finish against Olympique Marseille but he suffered an abdominal injury in the build up to the home clash against those goons from Stoke and required a surgery to mitigate the problem. This made him miss two months of action.

With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky in good form, Arsene Wenger took a rather cautious approach with Walcott following his return to full fitness. Following a couple of substitute appearances which included creating an assist despite coming into the pitch with just four minutes to spare, Walcott showed what he was made of in the rather dismal 6-3 capitulation in the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad. The Englishman showed good reactions to score two well-taken goals. He followed this up with another brace against West Ham at Upton Park and he began 2014 with a clipped finish against Cardiff that put the game beyond doubt.

With Olivier Giroud falling ill and Nicklas Bendtner suffering an injury to his ankle, Walcott was afforded a chance can to strut his stuff in the center forward position in the North London Derby against Tottenham on Saturday. His linkup play and movement was brilliant but his finishing was a bit wayward. However, on the 81st minute after Arsene Wenger had made all his substitutions, Walcott was tackled by Danny Rose and he couldn’t get back up.

View image on Twitter

While he was stretched out, he trolled the Spurs fans by reminding them of the scoreline and they pelted coins at him, but the Arsenal fans responded by throwing red and white scarves at their hero while signing his songs. When we had learned that he had suffered an ACL injury, the curtains came down on his 2013/14 and it extended even to the 2014 World Cup.

I can’t stress much about the loss of Walcott without revealing his stats so far last season with some aid from WhoScored,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)

1 (1)

Goals

5

1

Assists

4

Shots (per game)

33 (2.5)

4 (2)

Dribbles (per game)

9 (0.7)

1 (0.5)

Key Passes (per game)

23 (1.8)

1 (0.5)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

258 (210)

28 (24)

Pass Completion percentage

81.4%

85.7%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(1/0)

In the Premier League, Walcott was in a rich vein of goalscoring form with five goals in his last games and with Nicklas Bendtner and Olivier Giroud out of the equation, he was odds on to get an extended run of games in his favored center forward position that would have led to him scoring more goals.

With Walcott out for the remainder of the campaign, his teammates went on to win the FA Cup but the Gunners crashed out of the Champions League (no thanks to Bayern Munich) and their Premier League title contending flames were doused in March. With Ramsey also out injured for a considerable chunk of the second half of the season, the goals were hard to come by, even though Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski made immense contributions to the team’s cause.

Walcott also offer a threat going forward with his blistering pace a thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has his own reserves of pace as well as a direct style of play but Walcott’s decision making is unbelievably quick and his finishing, boy, is up there with the best in the business. Walcott is the kind of player that might not necessarily have an outstanding game but in the wake of half a chance, the opposition net always ends up with the ball inside it.

With Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck combining well as well as threatening defenses with their pace, having Walcott back would essentially mean that Arsenal’s attacking trio would be a menace to opposition defenders, provided they get the right service from the midfield. With Arsenal going through a spell that has so many of its players on the sidelines, seeing a player return – especially if that player is Theo Walcott is heartwarming.

I hope he gets eased into action slowly and I’m also hoping that he won’t have any setbacks as well. It’s good to have Arsenal’s version of the Flash back in training.

Opposition defenders, beware.

Sayonara.

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Theo Walcott’s Injury: How Will Arsenal Cope in his Absence?

Hi-res-460993535-theo-walcott-of-arsenal-lies-injured-on-the-pitch_crop_north

Get well soon Theo

Injuries, they say, are part and parcel of the beautiful game but like a thief at night, it sneaks on you when you least expect it. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has had his fair share of injury worries in the past with a dislocated shoulder being a big concern at the early part of his career with the club. He has also had some ankle and hamstring problems as well down the years.

When he managed to stay fit for the entirety of a season, he slammed in 21 goals and many more things were expected of him in the forthcoming campaign for both club and country. Walcott began the 2013/14 campaign at a rather slow pace in terms of his output in the final third, with his assist to Olivier Giroud in the North London Derby being his most telling contribution in the early part of the campaign.

He finally broke his goalscoring duck with a technically astute finish against Olympique Marseille but he suffered an abdominal injury in the build up to the home clash against those goons from Stoke and required a surgery to mitigate the problem.

With Olivier Giroud falling ill and Nicklas Bendtner suffering an injury to his ankle, Walcott was afforded a chance can to strut his stuff in the center forward in the North London Derby against Tottenham on Saturday. His linkup play and movement was brilliant but his finishing was a bit wayward.

However, on the 81st minute after Arsene Wenger had made all his substitutions, Walcott was tackled by Danny Rose and he couldn’t get back up. While he was stretched out, he trolled the Spurs fans by reminding them of the scoreline and they pelted coins at him, but the Arsenal fans responded by throwing red and white scarves at their hero while signing his songs.

View image on Twitter

In his post-match press conference, Wenger wasn’t too sure about how bad the injury was, citing that it might just be a stretched ligament or just a kick, but after an extensive scan on Monday, the club regrettably announced that the speedster has sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee, which means that he’ll be out for at least six months.

If you do your calculations right, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that Walcott’s 2013/14 campaign for the Gunners is over and he’ll play no part in England’s quest for glory in the World Cup which is very painful. On the international scene, Sven-Goran Eriksson put him (as a 16-year-old) on the plane to Germany in 2006, Fabio Capello didn’t deem him good enough to join the party in 2010 and now, injury has robbed him of a chance to shine in the big stage this time.

By the time, Russia would be hosting the World Cup in 2018, Walcott will be around 28/29-year-old, which ultimately means that it would probably be his last World Cup.

I can’t stress much about the loss of Walcott in these upcoming crucial clashes without revealing his stats so far this season with some aid from WhoScored,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)

1 (1)

Goals

5

1

Assists

4

Shots (per game)

33 (2.5)

4 (2)

Dribbles (per game)

9 (0.7)

1 (0.5)

Key Passes (per game)

23 (1.8)

1 (0.5)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

258 (210)

28 (24)

Pass Completion percentage

81.4%

85.7%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(1/0)

In the Premier League, Walcott was in a rich vein of goalscoring form with five goals in his last games and with Nicklas Bendtner and Olivier Giroud out of the equation, he was odds on to get an extended run of games in his favored center forward position that would have led to him scoring more goals.

Bleacher Report’s Sports Injuries Lead Writer, Will Carroll, has discussed at length about the short term and long term consequences of Walcott’s injury lay-off and according to PhysioRoom.com, seven players are currently out recovering from ACL injuries.

In the wake of Walcott’s loss, Arsene Wenger would have to count on the services of other players in the squad to do the job on the right wing, and there’s also the wildcard of going into the transfer market to get a new attacker in the mold of Walcott. Names like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Alexandre Pato come to mind.

Arsenal has a vast array of personnel that can be deployed in Walcott’s right wing position and I can look no further than Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and even Jack Wilshere – attacking midfielders that can cut in-field from the position. If Wenger chooses a direct approach, he can call on the services of Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that can supplement Walcott’s style of play in terms of pace, but they also bring their dribbling skills, raw power, strong shots and crossing ability to support the attack.

Serge Gnabry

Gnabry had a great game against Tottenham

Even if Walcott seems to be covered on the right wing in terms of personnel that can take his place, questions are still raised whether his injury, coupled with Bendtner’s ankle injury, would force the manager’s hand to delve into the transfer market to sign a new forward.

Olivier Giroud is recovering from an illness and with a week’s rest, he’ll be odds on to return to the pitch against Aston Villa on Monday night. Beyond Giroud, Wenger can only summon the services of Lukas Podolski that hasn’t really impressed when he was deployed as a center forward. Podolski is another player with injury worries of his own, so can he be relied upon to stay fit for the remainder of the campaign?

It’s a big shame that the Gunners would miss a player of Walcott’s immense qualities because he offered Arsenal what no other winger in the team could – those raw reserves of blistering pace that they could use to exploit defenses.

I feel very sad for Walcott and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Let’s just hope that he’d do a Ramsey when he returns, rather than an Eduardo da Silva.

Sayonara.

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