Arsenal fans up and down the country had more good news to cheer about today with the news that Arsenal’s quintet of young homegrown talent have all signed new contracts. Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have all pledged their long-term commitment to the club. But despite the positivity surrounding this announcement, there is still the uncertainty over Theo Walcott’s future. The arsenal winger’s current deal expires in the summer but he is free to start talking to others clubs as early as January.
There is no doubting Theo Walcott’s importance to the team. Over the past few season’s Walcott has proved that he is a top quality player. He was once resounded for being a player with lightening pace, good dribbling ability, balance and good technique but a player that time and time again had no end product to show for it. Even though he was described by Lionel Messi as one of the most dangerous players he has ever played against. In recent seasons however Walcott has contributed to more goals and assists allowing Arsenal to utilise his pace and trickery and get him inbehind the opposition defences. He has also matured as a person and has become experience in the game.
Despite only starting his first full game of this season in the match against Fulham on November 10th, Walcott is Arsenal’s leading scorer with 11 goals in all competitions. Walcott was overlooked at the start of the season by Gervinho which for a brief period didn’t seem like a bad choice as he was getting on the scoresheet and looking more dangerous than what he had last season but then his usual ways of careless passing, dribbling and shooting crept in again. It even got to the stage where most Arsenal fans held their breath in hope rather than expectation or even looked away when Gervinho surged in and around the box as they knew what to expect from the Ivorian.
With the new additions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud finding it harder and taking longer to settle in, Walcott has had to step up to the plate when called upon. Without Walcott this season Arsenal have seem to lack pace in the team for which they are normally renowned for. Also a lack of ideas going forward with less movement and intelligence to unlock defences which has also made it harder for Arsenal’s technical and quality midfield three to find space and dominate games.
Walcott has made a plea to Arsene Wenger to use him as Arsenal’s leading centre forward for the past couple of seasons and on Monday night against Reading he gave him that opportunity. He certainly made a case as he was a constant threat with his pace as he has great, dynamic movement as he runs in behind the defenders which stretches the opposition and creates more space for Arsenal’s midfielders to roam and dominate the game which with their quality is a scary thought. Walcott has also improved on his finishing as he has looked more clinical, lethal and composed infront of goal and with continued opportunities and guidance in that position, it will make him one of the best all round forwards in the division and possibly in Europe.
Whether Walcott’s tentativeness to sign a new contract is based on his positional future, a hike in wage demands or a lack of ambition from the clubs board, it is hard to imagine how Arsenal could be a constant threat to opposition teams. A problem in recent times is a lack of consistency but also in games where the team haven’t been dominating possession or creating chances after being under the cosh, without Walcott it makes it difficult to see where the goal could come from as his pace and movement would constantly give Arsenal an option to work with.
Arsenal do still have quality in attack, Lukas Podolski has proved that he can potentially be a clinical finisher in the premier league, Olivier Giroud has improved since the start of the season but the question still remains over him, Gervinho has shown glimpses of quality but remains too sloppy. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seems to be the ideal replacement as he’s young, quick, strong, determined and has bags of potential. But if Walcott does decide to leave, will Wenger decide to dip into the transfer market to buy a replacement? There has been talk of Raheem Sterling joining the gunners but in my opinion not only could I see that not happening I also feel sterling would be too young to replace Walcott as Arsenal would need an accomplished forward who can constantly assist and score goals to help Arsenal in their current struggle to win over the critics and cement their top four position.
Whether you like Walcott as a player or you don’t, there’s no doubting his ability and importance not only to Arsenal but also to the National Team.
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