A Gooner’s Perspective IV: Theo Walcott as a Center Forward?
This summer had its fair share of topsy-turvy activities as Arsenal fans where braced with moments of elation and sadness as well. Some Gunners continued to ply their trades for their respective nations in the European Championships but the transfer market dominated the summer as expected.
Splendid players in the form of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla joined the club and they’re already hit the ground running, with the exception of the French forward that is still trying really hard to break his goalscoring duck. On the other side of the scale, Arsenal lost its best player to the club’s fiercest rivals, which rightly caused a backlash and eyebrows where raised when Alex Song backed his bags to Barcelona as well, as it came out of the blue.
With the transfer window making a glorious mess of things, other issues had to be sorted out with one of them being finalizing Theo Walcott’s contract, as he was reaching the twilight of his current deal. After weeks of speculation, Walcott and his representatives reached a deadlock with Arsenal, as the £75,000 per week deal probably wasn’t good enough for them.
Walcott has come out to clear the air, stating that it’s not about the greens, but he’ll want to play as a center forward for Arsenal,
“It’s a slow process—my last contract took six months to happen. Hopefully it can be sorted out.
I’ve never said I wanted to go, I’ve always wanted to stay. I want to be an Arsenal legend. Thierry joined the club when he was 22 and I want to become an Arsenal legend like him, playing up front as well, which is a big factor for me.
I’ve played on the right wing and had the opportunity to play up front a bit more so I think it’s about time.
That speculation on the money side of it has never been me. That’s not me. I’m not the sort of person who’s influenced by money.
I always make my decisions based on football and only football. Hopefully something can be sorted out. I’ll just wait for the club to get back to us now and go from there.”
I shared my opinion on this matter in yesterday’s post,
“If Walcott states that the problem has been game time down the middle, I’d like the manager to give him a run-out there to see whether he can deliver or not. Let’s face it, Olivier Giroud is still struggling to make his mark and Gervinho plays like a robot with a dysfunctional chip.
Last season, Walcott scored 11 goals for Arsenal and scored 13 in the season before last. He also had his fair share of assists but we can’t argue the fact that Walcott is certainly a better finisher than Gervinho (and maybe Giroud) but he lacks so many features to function properly as a center forward.
He has devastating pace that can be used to great effect down the middle with defense-splitting through passes from the likes of Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta but the English speedster has serious issues with his decision making.
Walcott has hinted that Arsene Wenger might start him through the middle in tomorrow’s fixture against Coventry City (via the Independent) and he has stated that the move would be a nice gesture by his gaffer. I hope he utilizes the chance so that he’ll be able to give his manager selection headaches, because he’s clearly down the pecking order at Arsenal right now.”
I also took the debate to Twitter with the aim of knowing the Gooner’s perspective on this matter and the response was amazing. Here’s my take on tweets from followers of this blog, @goonerdaily;
@Obitwyce: Definitely should be striking. To all those saying he lacks striker properties, the false/virtual 9 has worked wonders
@ArsenalTopic: i think Arsene should give him a chance in the middle is not that we are doing well there. He might be our new NUMBER 14!
@Wllmzd9: better through the right wing, so we can rotate Gervinho and him
@Gunner11RVP: if the man is adamant he wants to play in that position – give him a chance – he may surprise us
@bolagunner: I see him doing better in the middle thou but Arsene likely to see better than we do
@etyro: I would prefer not to see Theo @ all. Its obvious we don’t need him.
@Kennydenz: how can a player with such bad ball control be demanding to play through the middle, he shld first work on his ball control
@chetmoolar: he still lacks what it takes to be a point man. He can’t hold up the ball, win aerial battles or play with his back to goal
@Bazhead14: Podolski has been playing 4rm d left wing and he still bags goals. Walcott should do same whether he plays thru d middle or not
@Arseblog_Fans: if Gervinho can get a chance upfront who’s a natural winger,why not Theo who was signed as a striker?
@mmayomi: none. On the bench….Ox is way ahead and big headed Gervh has his day sometimes
@TundeAlfred: Striking is not athletics. (Why evils?)
@MasafuJohn: yeah ofcourse. I know he can do better than gervino n giroud, relying on his speed n swiftness
@luketerry1: I’d like to see Podolski go through the middle regularly with ox/gerv/theo either side of him. Saying that I want giroud to be given a prolonged spell to as I think he’ll come good. I’d keep Theo out wide.
@DavidtheGonner: if Gerv has been given a chance despite his poor first touch, then I think Walcott deserves to b given a chance too.
@Laemzy: i think he wld def b more dangerous upfront cos he’s fast n a better finisher…let’s d prof give him a chance!
@daviruz: let’s give him a chance. Walcott deserves it… But itz up to Le Boss in the end
@Offiong187: I’m not sure how many players tell their coaches where they want to play while negotiating contracts. He shd b patient
It also sparked a nice argument between @dhebbur and @Alf_Redd, here’s my pick
@dhebbur: In this present Arsenal team? He’s more suited for the bench
@Alf_Redd: Stop it, he should be tested there, he’s been patient
@dhebbur: He has no right to dictate where he should be played. Wenger sees him in training everyday. He surely isn’t impressed
@Alf_Redd: dictate? He’s pleading and hoping, I’m sure he was promised that position.
@dhebbur: Grandstanding is no way to plead. I dunno about the promise o..maybe he simply hasn’t impressed the promiser
@Alf_Redd: all I’m saying is he deserves a chance, has Gerv impressed enough to be given that role? Well what do I know?
@dhebbur: Wenger knows best… 1. Theo is useless when he’s deprived space. He’ll get more space as a winger than as a striker
@dhebbur: . If he’d signed the contract without all this agidi, he might be the one starting as CF ahead of Gerv. Who knows?
@Alf_Redd: you’ve said it all, Wenger knows best!!!
The tweets were endless but from what you can see, Arsenal fans have a divided opinion on the matter. Some want Walcott to be given a chance, others think that he’s not even good enough for the squad any more.
So what’s your own take on this matter?
Should Arsene Wenger heed to Walcott’s plea and give him a run-out as a center forward?
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