Arsene Wenger says he’s glad that Arsenal fans gave Theo Walcott such a good reception on his return to North London, and expects the same when Olivier Giroud comes back.
Walcott left for Everton in the January transfer window, but just a couple of weeks later he was back for a match against Arsenal. He received a standing ovation after his substitution and there were even chants of “Theo! Theo!” after he ran through on goal earlier in the match.
The Arsenal manager told the club magazine the response didn’t surprise him, considering what Walcott gave to the club.
“I always say that players who did fight for our shirt and fought for our club, you ideally want them to be respected,” he said.
“All our fans knew that Theo did not leave because he had any problem with Arsenal. It was just because he wanted to play and wanted to give himself a chance because he didn’t get enough games here.
“Today, people are informed and you don’t fool them. Theo is experienced, is a real Arsenal lover and is a guy who always respected the fans and the club. It was completely justified and I’m very happy that he got a great reception.”
What about Giroud?
Giroud also left during the January transfer window, though the move was slightly more controversial. He joined London rivals Chelsea to allow Arsenal’s deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to go through.
Wenger argued that the striker deserves the same sort of reception, claiming the two are “similar cases”.
“Olivier is an Arsenal man as well,” he said. “He left for similar reasons to Theo Walcott, by being sad to leave but also objective enough to analyse his situation.
“His professional career demanded that he moved, but his heart wanted him to stay. Both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud are similar cases on that front.”
Unsurprisingly, the manager didn’t then also insist on the same treatment for Alexis Sanchez. I’d imagine that wouldn’t go down half as well with the fans.
Whilst Walcott and Giroud left mostly for playing time, Sanchez appeared to join Manchester United for more money and an easier route to trophies. That doesn’t win you a lot of sympathy in most fanbases.