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Arsenal FC: Theo Walcott Improving from Commitment to Wide Role

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Theo Walcott's renewed commitment to his wide forward role has seen his form improve dramatically over the last two months.

During the early weeks of the season, Arsenal fans were subjected to regular public calls from Walcott, asking to be played through the middle.

Drab and ineffective performances at home to Liverpool and Swansea City seemed to reveal a player deeply unhappy with his role in the team.

But Arsene Wenger stuck to his guns and insisted Walcott currently best serves the team operating in a wide forward role.

Wenger's persistence has paid off and seen Walcott become arguably Arsenal's most influential player, after talismanic skipper Robin van Persie.

Walcott has relished playing chief provider for van Persie's remarkable production in front of goal. The free-scoring Dutchman has even gone as far as crediting Walcott for making his stunning run of form possible.

The England speedster has shown a greater desire to play within the parameters of his position. Walcott is more eager to take players on and fire quick deliveries into the box.

The fleet-footed Gunners forward deserves credit for adapting his game to suit Arsenal's more functional method of play this season.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05:  Robin van Persie (R) of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Theo Walcott (L) after scoing the opening goal after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at Emi
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No longer content to simply whip crosses into the area, Walcott has showcased more variety in his delivery.

He frequently pulls the ball back across the box and along the ground. This better suits an Arsenal team lacking true aerial dominance in forward areas and has led to several tap-ins for van Persie.

Walcott has displayed a better instinct about when to play a particular pass or cross. His smart pull back for Arsenal's fourth goal against Wigan Athletic is a fine example of how much his decision-making has improved.

In Arsenal's most recent fixture at home to Everton, Walcott appeared as though he can still be plagued by moments of indecision.

But it's almost unfair to highlight what was a mere blip in what is currently his best run of form in an Arsenal shirt.

Confidence and decisiveness are the attributes that have turned Walcott's game around. His supply is now vital to Arsenal's scoring potential.

This author has been as critical of Walcott as anybody, but the young Gunners forward deserves tremendous credit for refining his game and becoming one of the driving forces behind a more direct and efficient style of play.

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