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Why is Walcott Wasting Time to Sign Da Ting?

Goalscorer Walcott wheels away in celebration as as the fans in the background celebrate his winner as Arsenal see off Everton 

 

So I’m back at work, suffering for a little dose of post-public holiday hangover (the feeling of being in holiday mode when you’re meant to be mentally ready for work) but it would pass. When you have the large amount of pending emails I’m seeing this morning, you’d know that a lot can happen at work between Thursday last week and today, because I spent Friday last week, Saturday, Sunday and yesterday playing the Witcher III on my PS4.

With plans ongoing for the forthcoming Emirates Cup, Arsene Wenger would want to ensure that his squad is a tight-knit bunch and he wouldn’t want any ‘unhappy ‘ players in the squad. It’s a long season ahead of us and Wenger would want to secure the futures of some of the players with contracts that are reaching their end.

From the best of my knowledge, signing a contract is meant to be a pretty much straightforward thing. On one end is the club representatives, telling the player and his agent the terms of the new contract, the number of years and of course, the weekly salary figure. Some clubs even go as far as adding clauses (that usually proves beneficial or troubling in the near future). The player and his agent read the terms, iron a few things out before the player puts pen to paper and bob’s your uncle. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated than I feel it is but when a contract situation becomes protracted it becomes a niggling issue that’s no different from a thorn in a flesh.

Look at young lads like Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin that recently extended their contracts with the club. At the start of last season, it seemed unlikely that they were going to make their breakthroughs at the club. Even Arsene Wenger has acknowledged several times that he didn’t envisage that these lads would have exceeded all his expectations. Both players had stroke of luck on their side and latched onto the opportunities that were afforded to them by putting up great performances on the pitch and the club deemed it fit to tie their futures to long term deals – which of course, they signed without batting an eyelid. No issues, no problems, just signing a good ol’ contract and they did.

Enter Theo Walcott – Arsenal’s longest serving player with Abou Diaby leaving the club a few weeks ago. In 302 games for Arsenal, Walcott has scored 76 goals with half a century coming in the Premier League. The club has groomed a relatively raw young talent from Southampton and improved him drastically. I’d say that Walcott isn’t a finished product just yet, as there are some aspects of his game that needs improvement but he’s a player that gives you that unpredictably and edge in a game, especially when the chips are down.

He did well to nail a first team berth in the squad but he suffered that ACL injury that sidelined him for a very long time. His return to the club saw him score a couple of goals but Wenger ‘froze him out’ of the first team for the ending months of last season before giving him rare starts against West Brom in the final league game and Aston Villa in the FA Cup final and he gave his manager something to think when he scored four goals in two games.

This season, Walcott began with a bang as his scored with literally his first attempt on goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy final. He started on the right flank but drifted into a center forward position to score after anticipating Santi Cazorla’s brilliant overhead through ball. With that effort, Walcott is doing his bit to become indispensable to the team but he’s running into the final months of his contract and he has to sign da ting if he wants to remain at Arsenal.

A player with one year on his contract puts a club in a rather precarious situation in regard to his future and in most cases, drastic decisions are made. Will the club cash in on him and make 20m+ for his services, or will the club play hardball with him and let him on Bosman? Decisions. Decisions.

When he was asked his contract situation, Walcott seemed to be ‘relaxed’ about it,

“I enjoy playing for this club, so I am just letting them crack on with things and I’ll continue playing football.

“We’ll just play the waiting game and see what happens but I’m sure it won’t be long. This squad, for me, is one of the best I’ve been involved in. I want to be part of that.”

This so-called waiting game can take longer than expected but it’s really tiring, bearing in mind that Walcott put the club in the same situation in the 2012/13 campaign. The Guardian is reporting that he’s hoping for a pay rise to match his peers but I don’t know if it would be up to the £140,000-a-week deal the club pays Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

It’s also worth noting that Walcott has suffered a lot of injuries in his Arsenal career and this statistical breakdown by the folks at Paddy Power gives an extensive overview of Abou Diaby Walcott’s injury problems.

I hope Walcott signs da ting though. He’s a good asset to the team.

Sayonara.

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What Should We Expect from Arsenal’s English Players this Season?

Will they finally break into the first team setup?

February 14, 2005.

Arsenal is set to play Crystal Palace in Highbury and the squad comes out of the tunnel led by the iconic and talismanic captain, Patrick Vieira. Behind Vieira, I see the mad Jens Lehmann. In no particular order, the lineup had Gael Clichy, Pascal Cygan, Lauren Etame-Mayer, Kolo Toure, Edu, Robert Pires, Jose Antonio Reyes, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Back then, you could have only five players on the bench and the dugout comprised of Manuel Almunia, Philippe Senderos, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini and Robin van Persie.

Goals from Bergkamp (32′), Reyes (35′), Henry (39′), Vieira (54′) and Henry (77′) helped the Gunners to a resounding 5-1 victory but the game will be forever remember as the match Arsene Wenger selected an entire squad full of foreigners and pundits wondered if the Gunners were going to produce any English talent for the forthcoming World Cup in Germany. Sven-Goran Eriksson went on to invite three Gunners in Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and a young Theo Walcott.

Fast forward to July 2015 and Arsene Wenger has a squad filled up with foreign talent as well as some great English players. Arsenal currently has seven “first-team” English players in Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson.

Are any of these players the first name you’d see in the first team if Arsene Wenger chooses a squad when everybody is fit? I don’t think so.

It didn’t use to be like this in the past you know? Kieran Gibbs was the heir to Clichy’s throne after he departed to Manchester City but a combination of poor form and his niggling fitness issues paved the way for Nacho Monreal and the Spaniard never looked back. Jack Wilshere’s performances in the 2010/11 campaign were so awesome to the extent he even won the PFA Young Player of the Year award but he couldn’t build on it because he has had a career that has been blighted so badly by injuries. Theo Walcott was Wenger’s first choice on the right wing and he scored a lot of goals for the team but after suffering that ACL injury, he found it difficult to break into the team. The Ox had an extensive run-out this season but injuries halted his progress, Chambers had a great start to the season but poor form saw him lose his place to Hector Bellerin, Welbeck provided a stop-gap option in the wake of Giroud’s injury but he wasn’t a long-term solution and Jenkinson, well, was shipped out on loan because of the new acquisitions.

All the English contingent have their own stories but as it stands, the only way they could feature in the team is when the manager decides to rotate and staunch Arsenal fans know that Wenger doesn’t rotate that much. He’s certainly no rotation god like Rafa Benitez.

So what should we expect from Arsenal’s English contingent this season?

Gibbs should do better this season in challenging Monreal for the left back berth and I really hope he manages to stay fit. Injuries have been a bane to the fullback in his Arsenal career and he still needs to work on his positioning, something Monreal is very excellent at doing. He also needs to work on his output in the final third, because he really struggled to put in quality crosses or key passes when he was clean through on goal.

I consider this campaign a ‘make or break’ one for Jack Wilshere. There’s so much potential for everyone to see but what’s the point of having an asset when it’s more like a liability. Wilshere’s needs to work on giving out the ball in the right time because he has been on the end on some pretty nasty impact challenges due to mistimed tackles from defenders trying to win the ball back. I expect him to feature in the box-to-box role and he has to do his very best when he gets a chance because Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are ahead of him in the pecking order.

Theo Walcott has to sign a new contract with the club to show his commitment because I don’t think Arsenal needs to go through the drama they did when the club tried to tie him down to a long term contract. On the pitch, he scored four goals in two games he featured as a center forward and he offers Arsenal a different dynamism in attack. It’s going to be interesting to see how Wenger manages the Walcott and Giroud conundrum but if the manager has plans for Theo, I don’t expect to see any addition in this position.

As for the Ox, he needs to improve on his ‘numbers’. I love his directness and ability to take on defenders but the issue I have with the Ox is that he doesn’t rake in the goals and assists on a consistent basis. He’s a player with a lot of potential and he has had his injury worries in the past as well, but he has to do his bit to stay fit and give his manager something to think about.

Calum Chambers had a blistering start to his Arsenal career but he’s way down the pecking order in the right back and center back departments. I expect to see more of the lad in the domestic cup competitions and I hope he latches onto the opportunities he’d get because I don’t expect them to be much.

Welbeck is one lad I have high hopes for but in all honesty he didn’t really prove to me that he has what he takes to lead the line for a club like Arsenal. He needs to improve on his finishing and composure in front of goal. He has age on his side so there’s enough room for improvement opportunities.

Finally, Jenkinson will have to keep doing his thing while he’s out on loan.

I have very high hopes for Arsenal’s English players this season. Let’s just hope they can get the job done.

Sayonara.

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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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