Thierry Henry has admitted that Theo Walcott doesn’t know his true position on the pitch and this is why he hasn’t progressed, but who is to blame?
Speaking recently, the Arsenal legend both defended Walcott and slated him. On one hand, he implied that the talent is there but on the other he admitted that his potential hasn’t been met due to him lacking positional awareness.
“He has struggled,” said Henry.
“His 10 years at Arsenal have been a weird one. Apart from one season where he played more than 30 games, he wasn’t really a starter. If Welbeck is out and Oxlade-Chamberlain is out, we all know how important pace is in the way [England manager Roy] Hodgson wants to play.
“If you go, you have to have performed.
“I always have a mixed reaction, Theo Walcott has been in the game for 10 years, you should know about him. You always have something to prove, he should know what he can offer to a team.
“By now he should know what his position is, but it is not clear.”
Theo has spoken extensively about his love for playing up front and, for a time, he was successful there. While Olivier Giroud was suffering through his first dry patch of the season, Theo got a few starts and was on fire. Well, comparatively speaking. In the space of a couple of weeks spanning from mid-September 2015 to early October, Theo scored four goals and provided three assists. Many of us were eating our words about how he was a natural winger and happily so. However, a calf injury left him out until November and by then, Giroud had started scoring again.
When Theo was gradually introduced back onto the pitch, albeit as a substitute, it was once again as a winger. However, after scoring against Hull in the FA Cup, the forward claimed that he had missed playing there. Although, to be honest, he was probably just paying lip service in order to get more game time.
So on one hand, we have Theo wanting to play as a striker, on the other, we have Wenger putting him out on the wing where, in theory he should still offer plenty given his speed. It’s easy to see why he’d be confused but at the age of 27, as Thierry said, he should really know and I think the fact that he doesn’t sums up his playing style. He doesn’t impose himself on the match and doesn’t make an impression, at least not a positive one. So it’s difficult to pin him down to one positions and not in a good way.
I honestly don’t blame Wenger. I think his flexibility in moving Theo around is because he does believe in him deep down and he’s also very aware of how long the former Southampton man has been in north London. A decade is a long time for the Next Big Thing’s talent to not come to fruition.
I think Wenger protects Theo. All this moving him around and trying to force him to gel with a squad which, honestly, he’s probably never going to gel with. It’s the manager flogging a dead horse.