Inside Forward vs Wide Midfielder
I came across loads of debates concerning Theo Walcott’s involvement in the starting XI, or lack of it shall I say. The majority of us are speculating on why that may be the case, whether it’s due to the stalling of contract negotiations, recent form etc… None of us will truly know the answer.
What did peak my attention though was opinions on who he should have started over. Some say Alexis with whom I agree needs a rest but others say Welbeck due to his lack of attacking capabilities.
I have to disagree with the latter.
Despite playing on opposite sides I feel that Alexis is Walcott’s main competition as an inside forward, before the season a lot of people thought Alexis & Walcott on both wings would ‘tear up the league’…. I hate to break it to you but this isn’t a Fifa game. The team needs balance which both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck provide with their qualities as wide midfielders.
I know Welbeck is a forward and in his mind a central based one but when he plays out wide his qualities outside the box and defensive work-rate add to the balance of the midfield, some of you said it yourself he ‘lacks attacking qualities’. This is exactly why I understand his constant selection by Arsene.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, when fit gets the nod for me as he’s also a wide midfielder and although his end product could improve massively he brings so many qualities to the side that Theo doesn’t such as skill and drive on the ball. He’s developed well this season and I’d like to think he’s a starter in the team now on the right.
Alexis vs Walcott is the interesting one, people have argued that they’re different types of players, which indeed they are but both have similar roles in the team. They’re the most relied on to get closest to Olivier Giroud they just do so differently.
So Alexis likes coming short for the ball and taking on defenders to get into attacking positions whilst Walcott is more reliant on being sent through with a pass but the mutual goal is to get into similar areas in and around the box, therefore their roles are pretty much the same.
Can they play together?
Yes, but only in games we’re certain to dominate with free-flowing attacking football like against West Ham last week or maybe tough games where we set up purely for the counter but that requires a flat midfield in a 4-3-3 formation. Whilst Mesut Ozil or Santi Cazorla occupy the No. 10 roles both of whom are defensively weak we can’t really afford to play all 3 behind the front man, we’d get annihilated.
As we do like to use a No. 10 due to our wealth of creative midfield options I fully understand why Oxlade/Welbeck oppose Alexis on the other flank, it’s for balance purposes.
Those concerned about Walcott’s lack of game time must consider it’s due to Alexis Sanchez’s recruitment and ask yourself is the former as good as the latter? There’s an obvious answer for that one. I did always have a gut feeling that we brought Alexis as Walcott’s long term replacement if not ultimately at the club then certainly in the starting XI.
Having said that I do hope we manage to resolve the contract issues with Walcott, he’s one of the most deadly players of his type in Europe and brings something to the team that not many others bring which is his blatant off the ball movement coupled with his speed.
He’d certainly score goals elsewhere and I wouldn’t put it past him magically getting over all his fitness issues and hurting us for a rival. He’s a good alternative to Sanchez and one of few players that makes Giroud tick. We have 4 reliable goal scorers in the team which includes him alongside the other 2 names in this paragraph and Aaron Ramsey; I’d like us to maintain that number.
But please let’s not confuse Walcott’s role in the team and why he’s not starting. Alexis’ presence makes it tougher for Theo to start in away games like Newcastle yesterday and I think the decisions of late have been half justified.
For the record, my favourite winger/wide midfield combination is Alexis Sanchez on the left and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right side of our main centre-forward.