Monday, 23 May 2011

Theo Walcott

It's quite hard to believe that it's nearly 5 1/2 years since we signed Theo. In that time he has played 174 times for Arsenal and his progression has been somewhat hampered for one reason or another. What is clear to me is that his days at right wing are numbered. Arsene Wenger has said that he sees Walcott as a central striker in the future but how long do we have to wait for this transition to take place.

The Right Winger

Theo's outstanding quality is without doubt his pace. However, pace alone will not see you through every game. Theo lacks the ability to deliver a telling ball, something highlighted when David Beckham tried to teach him about the art of crossing before being sensationally axed from Englands World Cup squad. Now since then Theo's crossing hasn't really improved. So either he didn't learn anything from the greatest delieverer of a football in modern times or it's an attribute that he doesn't possess. Theo's other problem is much like Beckham's main criticism, the ability to beat a man. If we can slip a ball in behind a full back, great. There's no stopping him. Unfortunately this is easier said that done. Often he has to confront a left back and if truth be known, he doesn't have a catologue of skills and tricks. Full backs get tight to him and he has little space to manoeuvre, always looking to drop his shoulder and get to the byline, there isn't an awful lot wrong with that but rarely do you see he do such things against the likes of Evra, Cole & Enrique. Theo is coming off his most successful season (13 goals) for Arsenal and only when you realise that do you think his performances really aren't living up to the expectation that his signing appeared to bring with it.

The Striker

Now first of all we have to get away from this unsuccessful 4-3-3, which is obviously easier said than done. However, if AW decided to bite the bullet and revert back to the tried and tested 4-4-2, I can see a good partnership in the making with him and Robin Van Persie. Theo can get into positions between the full back and centre half and latch onto balls into the channels. When he confronts a keeper head on his finishing is pretty impressive, often he takes his shot early and it catches the keeper in no mans lands somewhat. Look at the finishes v Shaktar, Newcastle x 2 and T@ttenham. Theo's best work in an Arsenal shirt often happens between the width of the box. His runs at Liverpool, his role v Chelsea this season & how he exposed Barcelona last season all demonstrate this. He can prove elusive when marking and when we gets one on ne the aim is much easier, get your shot in. He has options, left foot, right foot or assist. Whereas his right wing position is somewhar easier to predict. If TW14 was to become a striker he would certainly have to improve on his strength but that is something that can be rectified quite easily. That's not go get away from his main strength, his pace and that is something that troubles centre backs much more than full backs.

Will it happen? Probably not but with the likely departure of Bendtner and Vela we will be rather short in attack, even if we persevere with 4-3-3. Wenger often promotes from within and a positional change could be as good as a new signing. I think Theo can get 20+ goals and if he could strike up a partnership with the best striker in the country then we could be laughing.

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