Theo Starts, Theo Scores, Theo Signs!
The most protracted contract negotiation ever has finally been sorted and I’m not talking about Theo. I’m now 11 days into married life and after being engaged for 6 years I’m sure pretty much everyone who knows me was shocked to see me sign the marriage contract.
It was a lovely day and I must admit that my wedding enforced twitter and blogging hiatus was refreshing but I’m glad to be “back” and hopefully with a fitting return piece for you to enjoy.
Theo seems to be the news at the moment and his recent comments about wanting to stay have split the camp as much as his contribution does.
For what it is worth I believe Theo when he says he wants to stay and that it’s not about money. When Theo signed in 2009 he and the boss announced that he was going to play more as a striker but that never happened and that is understandably frustrating for the lad. Some will say that he has no business deciding for himself what his best position is and should leave it to the boss but these are the same people who said that they’d prefer two midfielders at right back over Jenkinson so maybe it’s not the boss who decides what position players are best suited to?
I have seen many arguments against Theo, both coating his ability and influence as a winger and his ability to transform into a striker for Arsenal, most of them I believe are actually better arguments for trialling him as a striker.
Theo is often maligned for his inconsistency and this is used as an argument for him not having “proved” himself worthy of playing up front. I say that statistically he stands up against the best wingers in the league in terms of goals, assists and minutes per chance created. Theo can be criticised for his “poor” crossing and lack of crosses reaching team-mates but I would suggest that is more a failing of the team and the formation than Theo’s crossing. How often do we have more than one person in the box? Not very often and this means the person who is in there is easily overpowered by the opposition and attack ends and Theo gets the blame for it.
Theo’s finishing is quoted as an area of improvement before he is giving a shot as a striker but his shots on target percentage stands up against the top strikers in the league.
% Of Shots That Were On Target
(48% if you only consider last 18 months)
I’ve used that table before and whilst I appreciate it doesn’t tell the whole story I think it shows that Theo’s shooting boots aren’t too shabby. He doesn’t score buckets of goals like the others in the table but it must be noted that he is shooting from vastly different angles and that may suit goalkeepers and lead to more saves or it could be that he is shooting straight at the keeper. I can’t say either way for certain but I think he hits the target enough to completely dismiss the false notion that he can’t shoot well enough to play as a striker, in fact I think most of Theo’s best goals have come from him running onto balls in the “middle” area.
Part of the frustration with Theo I often see and hear is his lack of consistency when running with the ball but I think that strengthens the Theo for striker argument. I believe it says that Theo is better running on to balls instead of with them and what position runs on to balls more than they run with them? You’ve got it
Theo’s touch has been criticised but I can honestly say that I do not remember a time when he has been in a position like Gervinho was against City and had feet full of lead. Is that because he doesn’t have lead feet or just that he is rarely in the position Gervinho was in to show either way? Who knows but surely we should give him the chance to delight or devastate us before we say for certain either way?
In an Arsenal team with Cazorla, Diaby, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey and Wilshere, who all have the ability to play a quality through ball, a striker, yes a striker, like Theo Walcott would excel. Most fullbacks struggle to cope with Theo’s speed and when he is on it he is unplayable and fullbacks in the modern era don’t tend to be slouches so imagine how difficult centre-backs would find it against Theo’s pace. Theo is more than capable of the “Henry finish” but that and pace is where the comparisons should stop. For me Theo is more Thierry Owen as his strength would be running onto balls and tucking them away.
Theo has the shooting ability and the speed to be a real force for Arsenal and I believe that the question should be “Can Theo play as a lone striker?” not can he play as a striker. I think most of the fans are united in thinking that Theo would be excellent in a two man system and I think him and Giroud would be fantastic together but I am probably in the minority in thinking that Theo could cope with playing on his own if the supply was there which it should be in the team we have. I believe that now is our last chance to play Theo as a striker, he has about 2 years of “development” left and about 6 years of his pace left so now is the time for him to learn the art of striking so he like Henry and Owen can still be effective when his pace has gone and the Capital One Cup is a perfect place for him to prove his credentials. Most of our young players have used this competition to prove their worth to the first team and maybe this is Theo’s second chance to show us what he can do as a striker.
He’s done his time on the wing and were it not for us changing to a lone striker system I think Theo would have been playing as a striker in a 442/4132 a few years back. I also believe that Theo’s effectiveness, yes effectiveness, on the wing has held him back as a striker as his contribution was too great to let go of, especially when we’ve been having trouble getting into the top four.
I think Theo’s first team absence now has a lot to do with him changing positions or at least I hope it is.
In my opinion Theo is a striker and not playing him as a striker is to our own detriment. If playing him as a striker is what it takes to re-sign him then that is what we should do. We have lost many players over the years and it may shock a few of you to know that Theo is our third longest-serving player. If we consider a players service to Arsenal from the day they signed and/or from the minute they made their first team debut then Djourou is our longest-serving player having made his debut in October 2005 against Man City in the then Carling Cup. Diaby is our second longest-serving player having joined the week before Theo and if Bendtner returns from loan then he’ll be our second longest-serving player having made his debut in 2005 also in the League Cup.
If we want to build successful teams we need players who are around for a long time and not be constantly rebuilding the team.
Our team is showing signs of being something special and I’m personally very pleased for Per and Carl for the plaudits they are getting. I have been unwavering in my support for them and suffered a lot of ridicule for that support and with the defence looking so solid and the midfield claiming the riches of options that they have now I think we can afford to give Theo a run up top starting with the match tomorrow night against Coventry.
I believe that Theo will sign if he gets a few games as a striker and I think that re-signing Theo is of the utmost importance.
I hope that Theo starts tomorrow night and if he does, with the right service, I believe he will score and that should really give the boss more belief to trial him in the league. He’s played Gervinho in the league with only 45 minutes of playing striker in preseason (I’ve checked the games and it was only against Man City he played striker and when Chamakh came on in the 2nd half he moved to the wing) so I see no reason why he can’t take the same risk with Theo and Theo, for me, is a lot more dangerous in front of goal than Gervinho will ever be.
He starts, he scores, he signs. Happy days.
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