Theo Walcott is the most recent Arsenal player to face a sustained period of time on the sidelines. He follows the likes of Poldoski, Chamberlain and Diaby who have also encountered a prolonged period of time out of action. The winger/ striker looked to have suffered a fairly innocuous injury against Spurs, however scans later revealed that Theo will not only miss the rest of the season for Arsenal but also the World Cup in Rio this summer. Theo seemed to have hit the ground running with a string of goals and assists since his return to action, the most important being his brace against West Ham which helped to grind out the win for the Gunners. The profound effect he was having on Arsenal will be undoubtedly missed but where does this unexpected injury leave Arsenal?
Although Theo has been predominately used as a winger throughout his time at Arsenal, Arsene sees him as a back up to the ever present Oliver Giroud. With his injury and the transfer window reaching its climax questions have been raised over the possibility of signing another striker this window. Arsene has repeatedly stated that he wishes the winter window to be shut down for good however the injury for Theo may cause him to delve deep and potentially unearth another gem along the same lines of Mesut Özil. Unrealistic targets such as Luiz Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Edison Cavani have inevitably circulated around social networking sites and transfer rumour websites. This along with the amount of money that is always misquoted during the transfer window period has normally led to disenchantment amongst the fans. However the astute nature of Arsene Wenger could grab a bargain on loan such as Mirko Vučinić from Juventus. Arsenal must act quickly with Inter Milan allegedly wanting to agree a swap deal with Fredy Guarín and Mirko Vučinić.
The injury to Theo Walcott may lead the way for Serge Gnabry to force his way into the team. The young German has continually excelled when given the chance, with games against Tottenham, Aston Villa and Fulham displaying his vast array of talent. There have been many comparisons between Gnabry and Adnan Januzaj of Man United. Both possess immeasurable amount of skill and maturity for such young players with the only real difference being the amount of game time that Januzaj has been presented with this year in comparison to Gnabry.
Even though Theo has had a massive effect on this Arsenal team since his return, Arsenal have coped without him throughout the majority of the season. The 4-2-3-1 system has been adopted with naturally central players interchanging positions to create a very fluid system. Theo’s pace may open teams up in behind but having three players behind the striker who are comfortable on the ball means that Arsenal’s ball retention is far superior than when he is in the team.
Theo Walcott can be a game changer. His pace on the counter attack and ability to go in behind the back four can leave space in front for Arsenal’s more creative players to work their magic. He is also versatile in the sense that he can play both on the wing and up front. However Arsenal fans must not panic. It may now encourage Arsene to enter the transfer market and may give a chance to the emerging Serge Gnabry. Who knows he could even guide Arsenal to their first major trophy in 8 years.
Photo via Ronnie Macdonald