Arsenal Transfers: Why Theo Walcott Staying Is Their Biggest Need in January
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In the absence of Robin van Persie, the Arsenal faithful wondered just who would rise to the occasion to fill the boots of the departed dynamic Dutchman. Summer acquisitions of both German international Lukas Podolski and French attacker Olivier Giroud were believed to be enough to fill the void. However, that is yet to come to fruition despite the two appearing to be slowly settling into life at the Emirates.
The hero the fans have been looking for has been one who has seen the majority of the current campaign as an outcast. Despite the continued frustrations of a drawn-out contract negotiation, this player has managed to take his club by the reins and lift it up onto his back at times.
That player is 23-year-old winger Theo Walcott. The young Englishman has been a loyal servant of the club this season. But the continued debate as to whether he should be given a chance to lead the line as a forward despite his breakneck speed on the flanks has been the real issue over him signing a new contract with the Gunners.
According to Arsenal correspondent Paul Kelso for the Telegraph, the youngster is all ears over a new contract with the club at the moment. However, it will remain to be seen what he role is to become.
A brilliant hat-trick and assist brace over the weekend in the club's impressive 7-3 victory over Newcastle United has the atmosphere ripe for the player to be given his desired new contract and his chance to be the main front man for the club.
Walcott's right-wing understudy, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, was quoted in full support of his club mate being given the chance to lead the club's attacking front by ESPN:
He definitely has all the attributes to play up front. The goals are coming. He has proven he can do a really good job for us up there.
For someone with his pace it's hard for anyone to defend against and when he gets the service he can always punish teams so he's doing really well.
His performance was amazing. You could see after his first goal he had a spring in his step but he has been like that all season. He has been brilliant.
Even with all the speculation that's going on, he's stuck to his work.
He's a great professional, a good mate and a good lad around the dressing room. We need him to keep (scoring goals) for as long as he can.
We've all been giving him a bit of banter [about his contract] but that's for Theo's people and himself to sort out with whoever is involved.
For many, the proof that Walcott deserves the chance is in the numbers. He is the club's leading English Premier League scorer on eight goals and also is tied with midfielder Santi Cazorla for the lead in assists at six.
However, he has done so with only eight starts in his 15 league appearances securing six goals and five assists. The seven substitute appearances only account for 171 minutes, in which time he has two goals and one assist.
Walcott has also produced the goods for the club outside of the league. Against Reading alone in the Carling Cup he accounted for three goals and three assists that were all vital in the club's fight back to victory in the 5-7 thriller. In total from the Cup ties and the UEFA Champions League he has contributed a total of six goals and three assists.
Altogether he has produced a combined total of 14 goals and nine assists in only 20 matches, of which only 11 were starts and nine substitute appearances. When compared to Podolski, the German has nine goals and seven assists from 23 starts and one substitute appearance, and Giroud has nine goals and six assists from 15 starts and 10 substitution appearances.
Those stats prove that Walcott has nearly out-produced the summer's two biggest attacking expenditures combined in half the time.
So how on earth can he not be the most important piece of business that the club have to tie up in January? Truth be told, he is hands down the one issue that the club must resolve for the good once the window opens tomorrow.
Arsene Wenger cannot afford to have his best producing forward not in his club house. Walcott is finding his ability, form and presence all at once, and the club would be foolish to allow him to go anywhere else.
All additional statistics from Arsenal's complete squad stats at ESPN FC.
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