With Arsene Wenger choosing to give his star players a rest after the 2-2 draw at Tottenham last weekend, Theo Walcott was deployed on the left wing, in the patented ‘I’m Alexis Sanchez and I play wherever the hell I want because I’m brilliant’ role.
And for the first 45 minutes, he took to it like a duck to battery acid.
It’s not that he was bad, it’s that he was anonymous.
With Hull playing five at the back and deploying a defensive line that camped on its own 18-yard line, there was simply no room for Walcott to run into. So he ended up spending long periods of time on the left wing admiring the night sky as Arsenal tried to stretch the play on the opposite wing.
On the few occasions he did see the ball, his output was…….erm…..mixed.
A 45-second period of play in which he took two corner kicks was hugely descriptive of his performance as a whole; the first cannoned into the first defender marking the near post, the second sailed ten yards over everyone’s head and out of play.
Nothing was working for him.
However, to his credit, he didn’t stop trying.
Having to chase the game at 1-0 down, Hull were forced to advance from their self-dug trenches outside their penalty box, and space on the wings started to emerge.
Once there was only a single defender marking him, Theo thrived.
Time and again he was in the perfect place to capitalise on good through-passes from the midfield, as Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell found him in space again and again, and his endeavour was rewarded, thanks to an excellent cross setting up Giroud’s second goal and then a smart finish for his own opening goal.
With Hull in disarray after the third goal, some intelligent movement on the right wing found him free again, and a deflected shot gave him his second goal.
All in all, it was a mixed bag of a game for Walcott, but at least, the bag was full.
It’s hard to say that he had a bad game when he finished with two goals and an assist, but it’s just as hard to say that he deserves a place in the starting lineup on Sunday against Watford because of his performance.
Oh well. Unlucky Theo, I guess.