With an opportunity to reflect on Theo Walcott’s full return to first team action a week on from the FA Cup test against Hull, the qualities he brings to the side is quite easy to observe. A fully confident Walcott full of match practice may have scored a hat-trick on another day but the rust in his game was evident, as he himself admitted to having to “blow away cobwebs”.
What distinguishes Theo Walcott from every other attacker in our squad is his off the ball qualities. The positive to take is that he was still getting into dangerous areas, despite wasting opportunities. He’s amongst our most efficient attackers and although some may have started to write him off due to Alexis’ arrival and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s emergence this season, Theo Walcott’s impact on the team shouldn’t be discredited.
Personally I think we have a number of wide players with more ability than him in Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Joel Campbell who’s skill and ability to produce the spectacular out of the ordinary may rank him higher in ‘talent’ than Walcott but that doesn’t make them any more important or better than Theo.
Theo Walcott developed into a vital player for us prior to injury because he provides the option for our large number of creative players to utilise. It makes little sense to have great passers of the ball without a runner to pick out and it’s something Theo certainly offers. Alexis likes to get on the ball and hover or cut into central positions, Ozil and Santi Cazorla also like to dictate the game in central areas, whilst Giroud often drops deep to link up play. This makes Theo Walcott’s inclination not to interfere with things appreciated.
Tactically it makes a massive difference too as his presence alone forces teams to drop a lot deeper than they’d like to in order to minimise his impact, this will allow us to control more games and push further up as we usually prefer.
When we lost Theo Walcott last season our title challenge effectively crumbled. Our game became way too predictable and too many of our players were similar which made it easy to not only stop us but batter us ala Chelsea and Liverpool.
Theo Walcott is far from finished at Arsenal and his return to action is more than welcome, it’s great to have him back in the side.
It will be very interesting to see how he performs for the duration of the campaign as his lofty earnings will need to be assessed soon with his deal nearing expiration.