Arsenal missing Theo Walcott

Over the years, Theo Walcott has been much derided by Arsenal fans, England fans and the media. Brilliant one game, anonymous the next. Despite last season being our top scorer with 21 goals, and also adding 14 assists, many still question his place in the side.

It is often said you only realise what a player contributes to the team in general when he does not play. A lot of people underrated Gilberto Silva massively during his early years at the club. It was only during a 7 month lay off with a broken back during the 2004-05 season that many realised how important the invisible wall was to the teams make up.

We saw in the 1-1 draw against WBA how much we missed Theo Walcott. Back in the middle of September, I posted about how Arsenal were playing like a Brazilian side with their new 4231 formation, and how this formation was heavily reliant on having a player with pace on one side. We saw against WBA how when you take this pace away, the side becomes too narrow and does not break the line of the defenders enough.

The WBA game was probably our worst attacking performance of the season. With Wilshere and Ramsey out wide, but both drifting in, we often ended up with all 5 midfielder’s in the middle of the park. No width and more importantly, no pace.

A few instances spring to mind where we desperately missed Walcott. The first was a break away from a corner. Normally whoever brings the ball out looks first for Walcott. With his electric pace, he is key to our counter attacking. Unfortunately, without Walcott, we had no other pace options. Mesut Ozil had the ball and he had a choice between Giroud or Ramsey going forward. He played a good ball to Ramsey, but he had to check in side and by the time he did this, the WBA players were back in droves and the chance was gone. Had Walcott been on the pitch, I am sure we would have seen him rampage down the right before playing the ball into Giroud or Ramsey for a tap in.

The second scenario happened a few times. Often Theo Walcott is a cross field out ball. When play is tight down one win, he is usually in acres of space on the other, allowing us to switch the play and exploit this pace. Unfortunately, without Walcott there, that space went unexploited. Jenkinson tried to push into it, but did not get far enough forward. This meant that play often became to congested and then break down on the other side of the pitch.

Theo Walcott also creates space for others. He often gets ‘chalk on his boots’ which widens the pitch, and his dangerous play usually results in teams having to use their full back, and either a centre back or winger, to close him down. This then gives more space to either his full back, or the midfielder’s. Too often, we were easily closed down against West Brom, as they pushed us into a congested middle, we were unable to create space for ourselves. Had Theo Walcott been playing, this would not of happened.

Yes, Lukas Podolski or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could have also made a difference. Their pace on the wings would have supplied a similar threat to that of Walcott, however Walcott has shown himself in the Premier League to be the better performer of the 3 and we missed him.

With the International break now upon us, we have 2 weeks for Walcott to get fit. I am sure he will play in our next game, and we will be back to our swashbucking best.

The fact we managed to get a point out of a tough game with the amount of injuries we currently have (Sagna, Diaby, Walcott, Chamberlain, Podolski, Cazorla, Sanogo) is testament to both our squad depth and current mental strength. As players start to return, we should begin to see just how good this Arsenal side are, and if we are truly title contenders.

Keenos
 

12 thoughts on “Arsenal missing Theo Walcott

  1. Stan

    Great article here. I have been stressing for a long time how Theo is important to this team but people often chided me for overrating him. Fact is opposing defenders are always so afraid of his pace and that is why they keep him checked all the time and this allows his other teammates more space to run into. Defenses are always so stretched by Walcott’s presence and this allows the likes of Ramsey and Ozil to slip through balls to him easily as shown in the game against Sunderland where Mesut was constantly able to give him quite a few defense-splitting passes, though Walcott ended up wasting all those chances.

    Reply
  2. jason jones

    agreed, the injection of pace on the flanks would have probably won us the wba game, but possibly other games ala spurs swansea it was nice to be tight upfield with our wide men adding to a more defensive tackling and high tempo game. We will have massive options when the ox poldi and TW are back and obviously our star performer cazorla, be interesting to see him and ozil tearing down defensive walls, yes gnabry looks special but patience is required. The unknown quantity is Sanogo will he be another Benteke ? time will tell…top of table i bleed arsenal 4ever !!!!!

    Reply
  3. Ozz

    I always say that Walcott have a great run and positioning, but he does have a lot of room to improve on his finishing skills.

    Reply
  4. Adeosun Akeem Ilesanmi

    It’s a gr8 observation; brilliant comments and analysis. Av always said d current Arsenal minus Walcot is incomplete; his pace like u said is a invaluable asset to the team, until he misses out his critics would get to understand his impact. Thumbs up.

    Reply
  5. Marlon Morris

    I think Wenger should start Gnabry instead of Jack or Rosiky those players have pace and they would stay wide.

    Reply
  6. Marlon Morris

    its true walcott is very important to the team as well as other player. ox lukas and santi. those are like half the starting line up out, but its good were are still winning and dominating games inspite those players out. wanger is a great manager and know is team well and i hope, pray and wish ARSENAL all the best this season so we can win titles

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott – Partnership made in heavan | She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

  8. Pingback: Furthest Man Forward | Walcott to be Arsenal’s to scorer in 2013/14

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