Thoughts on Walcott’s Desire to Win Trophies
After spending my Easter with loved ones far away from my laptop and all things Arsenal, I took some time off to watch Bayern Munich see out the threat Juventus posed as well as the pulsating draw between Paris St. Germain and Barcelona.
From an Arsenal perspective, it was a classic case of what might have been, as the Gunners watched sadly as their knockout phase victors from Bavaria put one foot in the semis with a comfortable lead over Juventus. Elsewhere, Cesc Fabregas was a halftime sub while Alex Song served time on the bench yet again as Barcelona almost ran away with a victory before a late Blaise Matuidi goal gave the home side a deserved draw.
All four Champions League quarter finalists from yesterday’s fixture list have one thing in common – they are odds on to win their respective league titles. In addition to the league titles they might probably clinch, one of these sides can go all the way to win Europe’s elite club competition while in the Red Half of North London, a certain club is gearing up for an eighth consecutive season without any form of silverware.
A long while ago, shortly after the debacle in the then Carling Cup final against Birmingham City, I published a post highlighting reasons why Arsenal remains trophy-less. I had written about the club’s lack of ruthlessness in the transfer window, focus on technical ability over leadership influence, the way the club handled RvP’s injuries (we still had him then), immeasurable faith in youth, Wenger’s mockery of the Carling Cup, continual belief in under-performing inconsistent players among others.
Theo Walcott has been a bright spark in what has been a relatively dark season and he has had his best goalscoring return of 18 goals in all competitions. The 24-year-old recently signed a new deal that would keep at the club for a long while and he also reached a milestone in Arsenal colors, surpassing the 250-game mark in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Sunderland.
Despite reaching this magnificent achievement, Walcott has stated that he would trade all his appearances for Arsenal to win a trophy,
“I would personally take all of [my] appearances away to win something at this Club. Some people may think I’m mad but I think I’m not selfish. I like to think for the Club and the fans.
“Appearances are great but winning things means more. Hopefully next season, when I hopefully reach 300 appearances, there will be a trophy on the end of that. That’s the biggest target.
I’m not in any position to challenge Walcott’s truthfulness or if this is another PR stunt but the fact remains that with Arsenal ending the season without silverware, some players might want to seek greener pastures elsewhere and the amount of years in the player’s contract is not a determining factor on whether he can leave the club or not.
While players like Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri put the club in a tight situation with one year left on their respective deals, players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas have also proven that the exodus can continue even for players with lengthy deals.
At Arsenal, we have to come to terms with the harsh reality that this club isn’t good enough to challenge for trophies until some drastic changes are made in the summer.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t need any soothsayer to tell him that he needs an enforcer in the middle of the park to assist Mikel Arteta and a profilic center forward to challenge Olivier Giroud for his place. Some deadwood also have to go to free up the club’s ever-increasing wage bill.
While Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci are sure-fire favorites to get the axe with their contracts expiring this summer, Arsenal has to make decisions on the futures of Johan Djourou (he wants to stay in Hannover), Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner, Park Chu-Young, Andre Santos and Denilson (Sao Paolo are ready to send him packing).
Arsenal will also have to strive to break the trend of selling key names in the summer, so serious work must be done to secure Bacary Sagna’s future, as he approaches the twilight years of his Arsenal career. Walcott was also under the spotlight for his contract dispute but that has been put to bed.
With personnel sorted out, Arsenal should also look to improve in their performances against the traditional Big Boys of the Premier League. The Gunners lost home and away to Chelsea this season and lost at home to Manchester City but secured a draw at the Etihad. Against Tottenham, the Gunners ran riot past them at home but lost the corresponding fixture away.
While Arsenal can be happy about their current fixture list, a potential banana skin against Manchester United comes up soon with Robin van Persie potentially grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reasons. When the Gunners visited Old Trafford, they put up a very appalling performance that culminated in defeat.
If the Gunners can secure good results against these teams next season as well as grabbing customary wins against the perceived weaker sides, Arsene Wenger’s men can reignite the 2003/04 spirit or the 2007/08 spirit. I’d prefer the former though.
Winning a trophy will be a truly magnificent achievement for Walcott and co. but you can’t get addicted to smoking if you haven’t lighted your first cigarette.
At this point in time, Arsenal’s focus should be firmly shifted to securing a Champions League spot at the end of the season. Then we can plan ahead from there.
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