Since the beginning of the season it’s been clear that Arsenal were struggling in the attacking department. With a midfield full of talent and promise, there’s just one piece of the jigsaw missing. The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere have supplied plenty of chances this season, with Bacary Sagna also whipping in dangerous crosses from the right. However, the Gunners don’t have a prolific striker to put the ball in the net, resulting in most of the chances going begging.
Olivier Giroud has been Arsenal’s main man this season, attracting a lot of criticism despite amassing 15 goals in the league alone. A lot of the comments have been unwarranted, as Giroud was never going to be a striker capable of leading the front line for a top European club. He needs support but he has been let down by Arsene Wenger in the transfer marker, who’s reluctancy to purchase another striking option in January played a huge part in Arsenal’s title campaign crumbling beneath their feet.
With Nicklas Bendtner finally on the way out, Arsenal are left with just Yaya Sanogo in the senior squad as an out-and-out striking option. The Frenchman has shown promise this season but isn’t yet capable of being what Arsenal need, while the same can be said for Joel Campbell- who may stay at the club next year following his impressive loan spell at Olympiacos.
The media outlets and fans are calling out for Wenger to splash the cash this summer but it’s not as easy as you may think. There are a lot of big clubs in the market for a goalscorer during the next transfer window, including the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. Moneybags Monaco and PSG are also likely to throw their hat in the ring- something that the North London club simply can’t compete with.
However, in all our haste to demand for a new striker we’ve forgotten about a golden man currently sitting on the sidelines nursing a long-term injury. Theo Walcott has said time and time again that he wants to play through the middle but he’s received limited options. In the 14 league games Walcott has played this season, he’s been directly involved in nine league goals- a very impressive record.
While inconsistent in taking chances, Walcott has displayed his finishing ability on numerous occasions and his pace running at the defence is something that Arsenal are crying out for. Giroud is notorious for his flicks and deft touches, which would be capitalised on by Walcott’s bursting runs.
Walcott is now also facing competition for his place on the wings. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still occupies an important spot there but he’s moving into the centre of midfield more and more- which is where his future lies. With Lukas Podolski currently first-choice on the left and Mesut Ozil being an ever-present figure when fit, it leaves just one slot available on the right of attack.
It’s no longer just a case of wingers, as the likes of Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are repeatedly pushed out wide in order to fit them into the team. With young players like Serge Gnabry and Ryo Miyaichi on the fringes of regular first-team contributions, the inclusion of Walcott in a wide role could severely hurt their chances of making it at the club.
Theo Walcott may not currently be a big-name striker and he doesn’t have the same stature of the players we’re trying to attract. However, he deserves his reward after years of patience and brilliant contributions to the team. With Walcott in the line-up Arsenal are a much more threatening side and if he played through the middle this season then Arsenal could’ve clinched the league at this stage.
Walcott’s future lies up front and as we don’t need him on the wing, we should use him efficiently by playing him as a striker- either instead of or alongside Giroud- though the latter would require a major shift in formation, which is highly unlikely.
Walcott also provides a plan B, something the club has sorely be crying out for. Giroud, Bendtner and Sanogo are all similar in their build and style of play- meaning that Arsenal don’t have another option to try. Not only does Walcott up front provide an alternative option, it provides a better option altogether. Walcott will finish the chances Ozil provides, leading them to both fill their full potential and propelling the club back to the heights that we all aspire to.
Do you think Walcott can solve the striker crisis? Comment below | Photo via Ronnie Macdonald