Arsenal’s goalless draw with Leicester City last Saturday has been in the news for all the wrong seasons. And the person who has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism is Theo Walcott. He looked unmotivated lacked focus, and that resulted in a rather sloppy performance. On the flip side, Wenger approached a rather unusual set-up – one in where the space up front for the forward players was reduced considerably. To make things worse, he started with three pacey players, and yet they did not have enough room to do anything for Arsenal.
Theo Walcott appeared to be affected the most by this change, as the reduced space limited him. He played on the right wing, like he did during their 4-3 loss to Liverpool, and was supposed to be a constant threat and to try and penetrate Leicester’s defence. His pace was supposed to be his power, but what good can pace do if there’s not enough room?
Further, though he put in a decent performance in the 3-1 win over Watford and claimed an assist, the England international wasted a lot of chances that he got. Walcott has the pace, but does not make the right decisions often.
Wenger employed a system that was relatively similar to the one adopted by Louis van Gaal as Manchester United’s manager. The Gunners dominated possession, but that gave Leicester time to restructure and organise themselves. Unfortunately for Arsenal, they did not have a strong attacking unit to counter that, and that leads back to Walcott again.
His frustrating performance cannot be solely blamed on Wenger’s game-plan. Walcott struggled anyway, and was unable to use his pace to his advantage. Even when he got the ball, his dribbling was nothing close to his in-form game, and it looked very clumsy.
His passes have been poor since pre-season and he lacked any sort of creativity in the games. Although Wenger’s tactics are partially to blame, Theo needs to get his mind in the game and improvise his skills.
He did try to re-establish himself as a good attacking player during the pre-season games, and perhaps he will improve with more time. However, after a decade of frustrating results, can Arsenal afford to take a chance?
Additionally, it feels like almost every year, Arsenal fans and Wenger hopes that Walcott will finally deliver and perform beyond expectations, as he is capable of being a formidable player. So far, nothing of that sort has happened, and his career at the Gunners is likely to be in trouble if he continues this season with the same kind of performance.
He is immensely talented, and that’s why he has been given so much time to progress. Wenger has put in a lot of effort into Walcott, but when will he finally show some signs of improvement?
If he wants to continue playing at Arsenal, he will need to put in better efforts. He was good enough against Liverpool and if he can somehow maintain that without any injuries, he could possibly play a lot well.