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Why it’s time to start playing misused Arsenal star in his favoured position:

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Arsenal’s emphatic victory over their North London rivals Tottenham was revealing in a great number of ways. The Gunner’s midfield, which had been the target of a lot of criticism over the last few weeks worked hard and provided the goods going forward, Tomas Rosicky proved that he still had something to offer at the top level of the game and Arsene Wenger proved that he knows his players better than anybody else in the country. After all, I’m sure most Arsenal fans balked at the sight of Yossi Benayoun and Rosicky in the same starting line-up combined with the absence of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, but all these decisions were justified over the course of the match.

What’s more, I think Theo Walcott has finally proved that he’s capable of fulfilling the striker role that he’s desperate to adopt in the future. That’s if his two finishes are anything to go by.

Arsene Wenger generally utilises the wings as a kind of testing ground for new talent. Well Theo Walcott has had his shot out on the right and despite all his effort and a few good performances, it’s clear he’s not a winger.

Nobody wants to see Theo Walcott attempting tippy-tappy stuff down the wing. He needs to be deployed where he’s most effective and that’s directly in front of goal.

I’ve always advocated playing Walcott as a striker as it seems to play both into his strengths as a footballer and shy away from his weaknesses. He’s shown that he’s a great finisher (the way he’s capable of curling it effortlessly round keepers is reminiscent of – dare I say it – Thierry Henry) he’d do well playing off the last man and once he’s through on goal nobody will catch him.

What’s more, he wont have to think so much. As an out-and-out striker, he’ll have to rely predominantly on his instinct. His poor decision-making has been exposed out on the wing, but if he’s the one receiving the ball in front of the goal, rather than down the wings, he will no longer have to decide whether to cross or shoot.

All of which was evident during Arenal 5-2 victory over Spurs. He had a shocker of a first half down the right-wing, but when he was deployed as the furthest man forward in the second half he managed to grab two very classy goals.

Surely it’s time to start getting the most out of Theo?

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8 comments

  • GILBO says:

    I have been stating this for months, Walcott needs the ball in front of him not too him, he hasn’t got the close control needed for a winger, put the ball 8 to 10 yards in front of him to run on to then look out.

  • GoonerB says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I have often said to disgruntled gooners that we can’t judge Walcott until he has a regular run as a striker. Michael Owen would have been an average winger at best but was a prolific striker and I think there is a 25 a season striker in Walcott if deployed through the middle. We have better options out wide in players that can twist and turn while running at a full back, and I think that RVP prefers to be able to come deeper and link up rather than be isolated up front. We waste RVP’s technical ability when he is more isolated but with Walcott it would not be as much of a problem if he was on the ball less and he could provide those few explosive moments where his pace and finishing ability do the job.

  • Jack says:

    While I agree to an extent that Theo should be getting more chances in a central role, I have to point out you are wrong, he was never put in a central role in the Tottenham game. Poor reporting!

    • Harry Cloke says:

      I never said he was deployed in a central role, just that he was often the furthest man forward. Poor reading!

  • Otieno says:

    Go walcot go. give us the goals

  • Docbrody says:

    With Sagna back, Walcott can drift into the middle more while Sagna plays up the wing. It was nice to see 3 players in the box (including Walcott) to receive Sagna crosses. On one of those, Rosicky scored, but if you watch it back, Walcott was right in there behind him.

  • Thabani says:

    I very much disagree with the article and most of the comments. Walcott has shown, on many occassions that he doesn’t have the composure in front of goal to justify being played in that position. He did that against Bolton and against QPR. He is effective with his pace on the wing (although he is not very good at crossing) and perhaps he should play there a bit more until he matures a bit.

    To play as a striker, Theo will need to bulk-up a bit more, work on his first touch and be more composed in front of goal.

  • meaner says:

    He improved by doing well once in every 5 games. He cannot dribble, no composure, cannot make decision, just run and run will make him a good striker? Owen still has the end product after he loses his speed. What will happen to walcott if he no longer has speed?

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