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By DJ Dragonfly

* Article sent on 4th March 2010

After watching Theo's performance for England against Egypt last night, I have finally come to the conclusion that until Wenger plays him in the central striker role for Arsenal (where Van Persie has been a major success this season and where Bendtner is currently plying his trade); we will never see the best of Theo Walcott.

Theo is at his best when he is playing on the shoulder of the last defender. When he is deploying this move, he uses his devastating pace, which enables him to peel off his marker and run into space, whilst bearing down on goal. He is also a very good finisher, whilst under pressure.

Theo may be one of the quickest players in the squad; however it doesn't mean that he would make a decent winger. If you were to analyse his performances on the wing for Arsenal to date, his final delivery from the wide areas has been very poor and he is very predictable whilst in retention of the ball (he always tends to take on his opponent on the outside instead of varying his runs), however his defensive play has improved from last season, when it has come to covering for Sagna or Eboue.

My reasoning to Wenger for playing Walcott on the wing was in order to help him improve his overall awareness of the game and learn how to make a variety of runs on the pitch, whilst providing width for the team.

By deploying him on the wing, it has lessened the threat that Theo could pose onto the opposition and his confidence has been weakened when it has come to taking on the opposition.

The most disappointing thing about watching Theo on the wing is that it is pretty obvious to see that he is uncomfortable playing there, however Wenger and Capello continue to position him there, which is very frustrating to see. The matter is also not helped by him picking up a number of injuries and not getting a consistent run in the team.

I strongly believe that Theo is now ready to play in the central striker role, however until I see Theo getting a regular run in a central position (for club and country), I am not going to be critical of his performances.

Mean Lean's Response

You raise some very interesting thoughts DJ Dragonfly. Theo Walcott came to us as a center forward and is certainly a good finisher, or has the potential to be a consistent finisher. There has been many times where I thought that center forward would suit him more than the right wing but I am not so sure that in our system he would be able to do very important tasks required of a center forward.

Quite often when we are not in possession of the ball of have just regain possession, our central striker is alone alongside one or two center backs. Van Persie is an expert in finding space receiving the ball and finding a joining colleague.

Bendtner has been doing well in the last few games, bringing the ball down on his chest and playing in the overlapping full backs or which ever player is in an advanced position. At this moment in time, I do not see Theo Walcott being able to do that.

Andrey Arshavin, who I thought was the perfect player to fill in for Van Persie looked lost in that role, his goal threat diminished and he found it very difficult to get involved in games. Since he has moved back out to the left, he has looked a far more dangerous and useful player, I may be wrong but I wouldn't be surprised if that would be the case with Theo.

The one reason why I would love to see Theo as a center forward, is because of his obvious natural strong point. His amazing pace.

The idea of Cesc lifting his head and scooping a ball forward to Walcott to outstrip everyone else would be great because I doubt that there is anymore than a handful of defenders that could keep pace but in reality, most teams would be too wise.

Even without Theo's presence we have faced teams who sit so very deep and very narrow that Theo would not be able to use his pace and would have to rely on his technique. We all know that Theo Walcott is perhaps a little behind most of our attacking players in technical quality.

I actually believe that the 4-3-3 system on paper at least is his most suited position. He gets to make those runs into forward positions and also has the space out wide to beat players. We have yet to see the best of Theo and that will only come with a number of regular games behind him.

Perhaps one day, we will see a more rounded and developed Theo as the 'new Henry' but for the time being, I believe that he should continue his trade setting up Nicklas Bendtner or curling in left foot shots.

  • 15 Sep 2015
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