It’s now been over a month since Walcott last played for Arsenal, so what’s happening with the 28-year-old England international?
After captaining the Gunners to a 0-0 draw against Red Star Belgrade on November 2nd, Theo was dropped to the bench for the next match against Manchester City. Then Wenger announced that Walcott would miss matches against Spurs, FC Köln and Burnley with illness, which he duly did.
Theo then posted on Twitter that he was back in training following his illness:
Many fans took this to mean Walcott would play some part in Wednesday’s game against Huddersfield. But the team was released, and Theo wasn’t in it. Nor was he on the bench.
Next up was Saturday’s match against Manchester United, and again Theo was neither in the team nor the squad.
If he can’t even make the squad for league games anymore, you have to start asking how long Theo will stick around. He’s made just six starts this season, all in the Europa League and League Cup, and after two substitute appearances in the first two league games of the season he’s made one in the following 12.
The winger still has another year-and-a-half left on his current Arsenal deal, but a move is starting to look more likely. In October, there were reports that former club Southampton could be interested in a reunion, and that seems as likely as anything else at this stage, to me.
England will head off to the World Cup in Russia next summer, and if Theo wants to be on the plane he has to be getting consistent game-time in the league. Southgate has already made it very clear with his stance on Wilshere that just playing in the Europa League and League Cup won’t be good enough. By the time the next World Cup comes around, Walcott will be 33, so this could well be his best chance to play in the tournament again.
We’ll likely get more of an idea of Wenger’s plans for Theo over the next week, with another Europa League fixture and a trip to St. Mary’s Stadium to play the Saints. But for now, I’m not particularly confident that Walcott will still be around on February 1st.