Coming off the bench for around half an hour on Saturday, the return of Theo Walcott was a huge boost for Arsenal.
Though he scored and played a part in the opener on Saturday, Olivier Giroud has struggled to carry the burden up front alone in recent weeks and could do with a break. The issue has been the alternatives which, essentially, haven’t existed.
Out wide the same issue has been prevalent, with Joel Campbell playing every game with whoever was available on the other side. That was Alexis Sánchez, but the Chilean is now out too. Aaron Ramsey won’t play wide due to injuries to Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, so Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started at the weekend.
As has usually been the case this season, the England winger struggled to get involved and his end product didn’t really exist. Walcott’s return is a huge bonus with Alexis out as, when the Chilean isn’t involved, Arsenal lack goal threat from out wide. That only pikes more pressure on Giroud, but Walcott can take that off.
Unfortunately, having played just half an hour since the end of October, Theo is almost certainly not ready to start in Greece on Wednesday evening. Giroud will be up front again – probably with Campbell and the Ox out wide – but Walcott will be waiting on the bench.
Pace to burn and a strong finisher, Arsenal may well need Theo as they have to score at least twice against Olympiacos. He can play wide, he can play up front, and he can be the difference between staying in the Champions League or playing Europa League football by February.