One of my bad habits is always reflecting on the past, in relation to what’s going on in the present and what could happen in the future. It sometimes proves to be more complex to understand, but in most cases helps me to connect the dots.
We’ve had dozens of eras in Arsene Wenger’s time at the club, with each era having its dynamic pair of wide men. While the first choice duo remains unclear in this present team, the benefits of having Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott operating from the wings in tandem are endless.
After series of niggling and long term injuries, both now seem to be finding their rhythm as we approach the business end of the season.
Now while both may not be your orthodox wide men (Theo stopped seeing himself as a no.7 since his teenage years), both have qualities that could propel them to remarkable success that the likes of Arjen Robben and Gareth Bale would be proud of.
Pace is what you get from ‘wingers’, which is one of the unique strengths the duo of Ozil and Theo possess. Both think as fast as they run but more importantly, have got fantastic movement off the ball, which makes them well placed in attacking transitions.
For Theo, intelligent movement was something he had to learn and develop ability for. He’s certainly improved further on it and his extended spell(s) on the sidelines have perhaps allowed him concentrate on fine-tuning his mobility off the ball.
In Ozil’s case however, his ability to glide into ‘interesting’ space is and has always been natural. He relies on an inborn instinct that helps him read attacking situations, like his goals this season have shown.
Conversely, the tendency to be ruthless in front of goal sees a reverse in abilities as Theo’s penchant for goals has always been borne out of instinct while Ozil (as we’ve seen recently) is clearly enjoying his shooting classes, developing a keen eye for goal in the process.
This surely is an attribute any attacker shouldn’t hesitate to embrace, and it’s certainly no coincidence the German has scored three in three since his return from injury.
Bury dead balls.
In furtherance, this exciting duo also find themselves at a stage in their careers which though seems stable, is arguably defining as well. And they could even define more moments if they improve on their already impressive set-piece abilities.
Both have it in them to provide tantalizing deliveries from dead ball situations but could take their game a notch further by perfecting the art of converting direct free-kicks. In this case, both would need to learn from the same manual and develop this unique ability simultaneously.
Considering this pair are also left and right footed respectively, they could mark down their territories. While Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla would almost certainly have something to say about that, how refreshing it would be to see Arsenal being dangerous once again from different angles of direct free-kicks.
The quest for power.
Now due to the influencing tendencies both have in matches, perhaps adding more power to their game is also a step in the right direction, as we’re beginning to see these two being more robust than they’ve previously been. The nature of the league also attracts a demanding style and often rewards those who confront this approach from a position of strength. This makes it more plausible that the duo have identified another area in their game to work on. Power is well and truly in their grasp!
There are very few players who match the technique of Mesut Ozil and the pace of Theo Walcott. With both being game changers and having a unique affinity with the offensive third, it surely isn’t out of place to imagine how more dangerous this duo could be, if the team adjusts its strategy around their weapons.