Theo Walcott: Why Arsenal's Marginalised Man Could Be Their Secret Weapon

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Theo Walcott: Why Arsenal's Marginalised Man Could Be Their Secret Weapon
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In the wake of his goal scoring outing at Schalke Tuesday night, the unsettled Theo Walcott revealed to Sky Sports (via Goal.com), "I just want to play, that's the main thing."

"Hopefully I can just have a run in the team because I think I fully deserve it. I just want to play for this team and hopefully this team can win the Premier League this year."

Also taking into account his slightly optimistic view on Arsenal's title chances, Walcott's comments hardly represent the attitude of a blithe, morose individual. 

His presence on the right flank to trouble Patrice Evra was greatly missed in the first half at Old Trafford this past weekend, though to suggest he would have made all the difference would be perhaps stretching the suspension of belief.

He may have to play the role of prodigal son for awhile, biding his time whilst Arsene Wenger has him banished to the Chateau d'If.

But more of a significant role in this team is a must for the man who, on his day, is a natural born X-factor.

He has earned a reputation over the course of his career for lacking a final product, but taking a look at the numbers, is this really a justifiable criticism?

Since the start of the 2010/11 season, he has bulged the net 32 times, only four fewer goals than Lukas Podolski has scored in the same span.

His creativity also goes unnoticed, providing 23 assists for grateful teammates during the past couple of seasons.

Though there are fears he is not rough-and-tumble enough to play in the centre-forward role, Arsenal are a team who prefer to attack through the middle rather than from out wide.

Walcott's quick feet could thrive in the middle. Besides, the Gervinho experiment has already resoundingly failed whilst Olivier Giroud is still yet to find his mojo.

Walcott has shown a happy knack of being in the right place at the right time numerous times—the Reading defence may not have proven particularly stern opposition in the recent 7-5 tennis score clash in the Capital One Cup, but Walcott's hat-trick in that game was well deserved.

What is worrying for fans of the Gunners, at least the few who see Walcott as an asset rather than a liability, is that his and Wenger's relationship seems almost irretrievably fractured at present.

Rumours persist that the English winger could lead a January clearout if his current contract situation is not resolved soon (via Daily Mail).

The predicament the club and player find themselves in reflects to a large extent that of Manchester United and the disheartened Nani.

Both players feel underpaid, but their respective clubs will only consider offering improved contracts once a tangible improvement is shown on the pitch.

However, it seems both Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson will continue to limit their wingers' involvement whilst the disputes rage on—thus preventing them from finding form in a decent run of games.

It's a sad situation—a Mexican standoff that cannot do either party any real good.

However, the biggest difference between Nani and Walcott is that the former seems to have lost all his confidence during his spell on the sidelines, whilst the latter appears increasingly raring to go.

Rest assured, as the season wears on, there will inevitably come moments when Wenger is forced to bring his man in from the cold.

Aaron Ramsey has shown flashes of excellence in the extended run given to him on the right flank, but he has certainly not been consistent enough to justify keeping that role in the long term.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The likelihood that he will be dropped for Walcott, though, is as low today as it was at the beginning of the season.

If he was going to be brought back into the team, last weekend, off the back of the his hat-trick, would have been the time to do it.

The Professor will have his reasons for keeping him locked up in storage, and though it may be dwindling, my trust in Wenger's decision-making remains staunch.

Rather if and when Walcott is given more of a runout, whether in the Premier League or the Champions League or even the Capital One Cup, he has the potential to win a game or two with a single moment of magic.

It has been clear in his brief cameos this season that his ability has not diminished sitting on the frosty Emirates bench, so to call him a "secret" weapon may be an exaggeration.

But you can rest assured that nobody will see him coming when he does.

 

What do you think of Theo Walcott's current exile? Should he be given more of a role in the first team further down the line?

For more on why Theo Walcott should be given a chance in the centre forward role, read Vince Siu's excellent piece here.

Follow @MaxTowle

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