Tag Archives: Walcott

Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott – Partnership made in heaven

Theo Walcott is set to make his Arsenal return against Southampton for Arsenal this Saturday after being out for 2 months with a stomach injury. Since he picked up his injury, Arsenal have missed his pace and direction. His return from injury will change the way Arsenal perform, and he will add another dimension to our attacking formation. Adding the pace and width to change a game.

Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott have played twice together since the German joined the club. In the 1st game, away to Sunderland, Ozil put Walcott through a couple of times, with the German’s vision and Englishman’s pace combining well. Only some good goal keeping stopped Theo getting a couple of goals. In their second game together, against Marseille, Walcott got his only goal this season.

It was that first game against Sunderland where we really saw what the partnership of Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil could do. With opponent’s being naturally drawn to Mesut Ozil, it gives Walcott bundles of space on the right hand side. With Ozil’s vision and passing ability, he will be able to pick out Walcott for fun. He was put in by Ozil 3 times against Sunderland. He might not have scored, but after 21 goals last season, we know he can finish. It will only be a matter of time until the back of the net starts rippling.

To say the partnership could be similar to the Thierry Henry / Dennis Bergkamp partnership of the early 00s would be ludicrous. It is more similar to that of Nicolas Anelka / Dennis Bergkamp. Bergkamp once said that Anelka was a dream to play with, as his runs were simple and he made it easy for Bergkamp to find. On the other hand, Bergkamp allowed Anelka to play simply. Make the run and the ball will arrive, used to be the mentality.

The Ozil / Walcott partnership will be similar. All Theo has to do is make the run, and the ball will find him. People claim Walcott does not have a football brain. I find this insulting to a professional football. But if it were true, he does not need one with Ozil in the side. All he has to do is run in a straight line, Ozil will do the rest.

Ozil and Walcott have only played twice together. Ozil, Cazorla and Walcott have yet to play together. This becomes even more mouth watering. As now you do not just have Ozil or Cazorla having the ability to find Walcott, you now have Ozil and Cazorla. Arsenal’s play will be very simple. Play around in the middle and on the left, drag the defenders over, then a quick through ball between full back and centre back and Walcott will be away. The 3 behind Giroud gives me exciting thoughts!

How Arsenal line up behind these 3 will be interesting. With Arteta & Flamini battling for 1 spot, and Wilshere and Ramsey the other, it does give us options. And we can play a combination of any 2 of the 4 and we will be strong. To think, with players returning from injury, our bench against Southampton could read: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermalean, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky & Bendtner. Who said we had no strength in depth?

It is crazy to think that Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil have only paid twice together this season. It is perhaps testament to how well Arsenal have started that they are still top, despite last seasons second best player (Santi Cazorla being 1st) being out for 2 months. There have been games where Walcott’s pace and width have been missed – WBA away springs to mind – and his return will only make Arsenal stronger.

Whether he starts or is on the bench for the game against Southampton, one thing is for certain, his return makes the Arsenal side better, and the Ozil/Walcott partnership will go from strength to strength.

Keenos

Is ‘Wenger Ball’ to blame for lack of Atmosphere?

Arsenal’s style of play is amazing at times. It’s a joy to watch. However within that last short sentence underlies a problem for me.

I’ve had this thought for a little while now which I’ve shared to a close few, explaining the reasons and all tend to see a point. The point is that I believe that our style of play is a contributing factor to the lack of atmosphere at the Arsenal.

Many will cite the lack of terraces and that all-seater stadiums are the main catalysts for lack of noise. I tend to agree and would live to see ‘safe standing’ introduced.

It’s far harder to sing with your arse stuck to a seat. Which is why you rarely see a pop star seated and even if they are then they’re on an high stall able to project their voice.

Yet I’m in Block 5 in front of RedAction standing. As much as they do a fantastic job trying to create an atmosphere they can’t do it on their own but there still periods were no signing happens and here’s why.

If you think of how and why chants start; its usually after an event of significance. A big game at KO in itself  brings noise…for a while. A goal obviously brings noise with chants of the score, scorer and overall pride. As does a big passage of play. Other reasons is an individual piece of recognition. A shot on goal, a save, a pass, a tackle or a piece of skill.

The problem is we’re being starved of moments to sing. We’ve been a team that holds the ball for long periods and usually in a position of the attacking third. Even a break away gets people on their feet expectantly but soon we’re back to ‘ticka-tacka’ and the quick break has gone. Yet we’re still expectant of something, we’re attacking.

It’s that waiting for that ‘something’ that is our problem. We’re on the attack yet as fans we’ve learnt to be patient in our build-up on the pitch. However because we’re being patience whilst we wait for that killer through ball, chip or pass, we simply don’t sing.

Think about it.

Theo bursting down the wing beating the full back. The east and west stands are getting to their feet. We’re all encouraging Walcott on. He crosses it inside / passes it to Giroud who shoots……. It’s wide or saved. Yet we’ll sing Theo or Giroud’s  name. Maybe a couple of generic songs.

More likely situation.

Theo bursting down the wing beating the full back. The east and west stands are getting to their feet. We’re all encouraging Walcott on. He cuts back inside. Passes it to Ramsey, he shifts the ball squaring it Ozil. Ozil switches feet and brings Cazorla in. Santi then passes……..

You get the point. We’re waiting! Maybe by now people have even regained their seats and sat down once again. Being direct get us singing.

If you look back at when Wenger took over (’96) and brought in his style of play it’s not long after the time that Highbury became an all-seater stadium (’93). By many away fans Highbury became known as the “Highbury Library” or just “The Library”.

This isn’t aimed at knocking Wenger or his style of play but if you look at United under Ferguson his team were very direct. Yes they passed the ball but they also took many shots. As I mentioned earlier a shot/chance would usually be met with a chant.

Whereas at times with us a lack of a shot has even had a negative effect with people almost pulling their hair out demanding a shot.

I don’t know what the answer is but we need to change our mentality and stop being entertained.

Our play is not the only reason but I think it certainly is a factor.

Next time you’re over at The Arsenal think about it. ‘Why am I (or others) not singing?’ You’ll often find it’s because you’re waiting for the players to do something.

Michael

 

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