Theo, Theo Theo Walcott, his an Englishman at Arsenal.
For a long time, I have been a supporter of Theo Walcott. Maybe it is because I back the under dog. Maybe it is because I felt he often came in for some unfair criticism by other fans.
In 2012/13, he was brilliant, it was his breakthrough season. 21 goals in 43 games playing out wide. Yet still some criticised.
The last two seasons, he has been hampered by various injuries, causing him to play just 38 games. He still managed to scored 13 goals.
He seems to have regained some of his fitness this year, playing 20 out of Arsenal’s 32 games. But he has an issue. He has been poor.
Earlier in the season, when played upfront, he looked good. Sharp, quick, direct. It looked as if he was regaining that form of 2012/13. However, a slight injury took him out of the team. His return came in the middle of an injury crisis, which saw him moved to the left hand side.
The first game back was against Olympiacos. With Joel Campbell performing well on the right hand side, and being more natural on the right than left, a decision was clearly made to play the senior player out of position. In this case, Theo Walcott.
He finished the game with glowing praise. Drifting inside from the left at pace, he was electric. A danger.
Next up was Aston Villa. He cut inside Alan Hutton, breaking away at speed, forcing Hutton to bring him down for a penalty. He also played a key part in Arsenal’s second, drifting in from the left to put through Mesuit Ozil who in turn squared it to Aaron Ramsey to score.
Then came his peak moment. Playing against Manchester City. Cutting in and bending one into the top corner. It was Sanchez-esque. It was Pires -esque.
Since that City game, however, Walcott has disappointed. He ha snow gone 6 games without a goal or assist.
Whilst a 6 game barren run is by no means a disaster, just a dip in form, it is his own field attitude which has disappointed.
He has looked disinterested. Unmotivated. He has not bust a gut to get forward. Nor to get back. It is as if he is playing within himself. Struggling to get himself involved.
Now it could be that he is playing with a slight injury, so he is playing at 80% so as to not aggravate it further, and once other players return, we will see him disappear back to the treatment table.
His play has also become predictable. Against Stoke, it was always obvious what he was going to do. Get the ball, and try and cut in on his right. They handled him easily.
What is clear is that Theo Walcott on the left does not work. He is a square peg in a round hole.
Alongside Walcott’s dip in form on the left, Joel Campbell has looked tired at times on the right. Whilst he lasted 90 minutes against Stoke, he was puffing towards the end.
Luckily for Arsenal, players are starting to come back from injury. With Alexis Sanchez returning for Chelsea, he will return to his position on the left hand side. That will give Wenger a decision on the right, Walcott or Campbell.
Personally, he should go for Walcott. The better player. The senior pro. It will also ensure that we do not become too narrow.
Hopefully a return to the right this weekend sees Walcott return to form.