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Theo Walcott was crowded out at Southampton.
A couple of seasons back, Arsene Wenger was repeatedly questioned about why he chose to deploy Nicklas Bendtner on the wing with Robin van Persie in the centre rather than the other way around. Wenger’s argument was that his priority was to have a player with outstanding technique in the middle so that he could instantaneously bring the ball under control and bring others in to play.
This is far from Walcott’s strength. He came to the game relatively late, and this is occasionally evident in his under-developed technique.
In some games, a centre-forward needs to be an outlet to relieve a team under pressure. He needs to bring down a long ball with his back to goal, hold off the challenges of two aggressive centre-backs and buy his teammates time to advance up the field in support.
It is the sort of play Olivier Giroud specialises in and the sort that Theo’s physical characteristics mean he is unlikely to be able to offer.
In the last two seasons, Arsenal’s game has adapted to add more variety to their play. One of the major changes has been a greater frequency of crosses into the box.
However, in his seven years at Arsenal, Theo Walcott has not managed to score a single headed goal.
His ability as a winger
One of the strongest arguments against playing Walcott as a striker is his ability as a winger. The cross he put in for Olivier Giroud’s first goal against Newcastle showed what he can do from out wide. Perhaps Arsenal need him more there than through the middle.