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Arsenal: Does Theo Walcott Deserve a Place in the Gunners' Lineup Every Week?

Max TowleAnalyst ISeptember 5, 2012

SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 29:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal FC in action during the pre-season Asian Tour friendly match between Kitchee FC and Arsenal at Hong Kong Stadium on July 29, 2012 in Hong Kong.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Arsenal's Theo Walcott is perhaps one of the ultimate enigmas in world football.

He has the ability and potential, but as many fans will testify—it is being able to play with excellence week in, week out which separates the men from the boys.

I wont toy with your intelligence by suggesting that the problem with Theo is his lack of a finished product—such an opinion has been expressed by every pundit under the sun.

His problem has always been a lack of consistency when operating in tight, congested areas—an unavoidable result of the type of possession-first orientated game that Arsenal will always play.

If the Gunners could clear the whole right-hand side of the pitch for Walcott to operate in, he'd be fine—on his day, he is able to maximize space like few others.

But even though it may seem like Theo is sometimes disengaged from the action, he is still one of the most productive wide players in the league.

Last season he scored 11 goals in all competitions and setup 13 more for his teammates.

Compare those statistics with Manchester United's Nani and Antonio Valencia—neither of whom have ever scored more than 10 in a season.

He gives you the X-factor—the danger that he may create something magical at any given moment—an ability that England utilised effectively at the Euros.

Playing Walcott in the centre forward role he craves is certainly not the answer—he hasn't the size nor physical determination to cut it against the more hurly-burly of Premier League back-lines.

He hasn't the tactical nous to play in behind the striker either. But to say he lacks a 'footballing brain' would be a little harsh.

Some have also suggested in the past that Walcott is the 'right' player in the 'wrong' team—that someone with his style of football could never thrive in the Arsenal way-of-playing.

There is some truth in this, but again, the statement is still exaggerated.

Despite the fact that Walcott has never been the first name on his team sheet, Wenger has always been patient with the Englishman.

Last season Walcott played the most football he has in his career, making close to 50 appearances for the Gunners.

When he was in form, so were Arsenal—his performances in the thrilling wins against Chelsea and Blackburn alone proved Wenger's continued faith justified.

I would also argue that there isn't a natural winger in the Premier League who has had a regularly top class campaign in recent times.

Even Valencia and Nani at their peak weren't able to carry their form throughout an entire season.

Walcott is a player who needs his teammates playing well around him to be consistently effective. And for the Gunners, an effective Walcott is an invaluable commodity.

And if he has to play the role of 'impact sub' as often as he starts games, so be it.

Because Theo Walcott is an asset, not a problem.

Follow @MaxTowle

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