Top of the league on a Monday eh? As early as it is in the season I'll still take it when I can get it even though it is essentially worthless at this stage. If anything I hope it can be a nice confidence booster ahead of future Premier league games.
Arsene Wenger's teams are usually hugely dependant on confidence given our expressive and artistic style of play. Which in my opinion is a good reason as to why we often lost games we did not play well in our recent past, compared to other big clubs who are perhaps more functional in their style.
There are a lot of players who are visibly confident in their game right now, you do not need to be a mind reader to know that one of the players I speak of is Aaron Ramsey. All I have done since pre season is talk of him and it is difficult not to. He picked up yet another man of the match award against Sunderland at the weekend. It is amazing what a little belief can do for a player. It is still very fresh in the memory that Ramsey was written off completely but I don't need to go into that again. I bring it up for a reason though.
Theo Walcott is four games into the season without a goal to his name even though he has had a few presentable chances to correct it. Clearly Theo isn't playing with the same spring in his step as Ramsey. This is normal, it is unusual to have a squad of players all firing on all cylinders at the same time. You do that and you probably get an unbeaten season. (yeah right, as if that is possible)
Ironically this time last season Theo Walcott was on the verge of forcing his way back into the team even though he was having contract issues with the club. Arsene found it difficult to keep him out because whenever he was on the pitch he was tucking away chances. Meanwhile Aaron Ramsey was wrestling with inconsistency. I remember a fantastic performance at Manchester City only for a disappointing showing at home the week after.
This season the tables have turned. Rambo is lighting up the league and Theo is being criticised from pillar to post well at least that was the case after the game this weekend.
Personally I don't think he is playing that badly at all. I think his game has come on a great deal, he is no longer making the basic mistakes on the ball that he was in his younger years. What is missing is his finishing and that could be linked with confidence.
Reading through post match articles and comments as I rather enjoy doing after victory I couldn't help but notice such a focus on Walcott.
'He should be dropped'
'When Cazorla comes back, he should replace him'
'He needs a kick up his backside'
And plenty worse. One criticism that I can agree with is that at times he doesn't defend as well as he should but I don't think this is all the time. He has moments where he switches off but also times where he is in the right back position clearing and starting a counter attack after having chased back an opponent and winning the ball.
Personally I think it is madness to want Walcott dropped so soon into a season, not only that but has everyone forgotten that he finished our top scorer last season? Not only that but a high number of assists. It was only our match before Sunderland that he assisted the only goal of the game against Tottenham.
*Reaching for my best Arsene impression* We seem to live in a world where big decisions have to be made due to a week or two of non perfection.
Football fans are like goldfish with football shirts on, cheering and booing the same player within 30 seconds. Not quite perhaps but you know what I man.
Last season Giroud and Ramsey were not good enough but Theo and Wilshere were our heroes. Don't mess about Ivan FFS! Pay Theo Walcott whatever he wants to make sure he stays they said, this season it seems as if those thoughts never happened.
Theo Walcott will always score goals over the course of a season. As a youngster he wasn't blessed technically but even when he was a raw kid, he always scored goals. I remember goals for England under 19s where he was curling it around keepers into the top corner. Currently he is probably over thinking his chances where as someone like Giroud has the confidence to play instinctively.
Even a Walcott completely off his game in terms of his touch, decision making and finishing still asks each manager before kick off how they would like to be killed.
Before Theo steps onto the pitch he alone makes opposition managers set up their teams a certain way.
The choices are a) Play deep to remove the space in behind Theo. This negates his pace and goal threat but then you have arguably the best creative midfield in the league close to your penalty box. Do you really want Cazorla, Özil, Ramsey, Wilshere or Rosicky running and creating near to your goal?
Then there is b) keep the creative players away from the goal by playing a high line and risk allowing Theo to have more one on one's with your keeper.
In short Theo helps us play our game, even if he is not playing well so removing him and replacing him with another creative midfield player isn't going to help the team when it comes to scoring goals.
Let us not write off our top scorer from last season in four games, he will have a purple patch once more like he usually does and the team will be better for it.
The quicker he gets off the mark the better it will be for us. I've got a sneaky feeling he will get one in Marseille in midweek. Fingers crossed.
Before I go I would like to point you in the direction of this fantastic piece on Arsene Wenger by Alastair Brookshaw called In Defence of Arsène Wenger – why it’s time to give the Manager the respect he deserves l I urge you to give it a read. Top, top, super quality stuff.
'til the next time.