Is Theo Walcott the answer? Arsenal are looking for a striker to give them 15-20 goals a season, with Arsene Wenger peering towards the transfer market in January, but his answer for on and off scoring problems might be waiting for him, contract dispute and all, on his bench.
Walcott is one of those players that is stuck between two positions and at 23, after nearly a decade of professional football, is still no quite clear and sure about what position he should play. A winger? A striker? Something in between, which makes it comfortable to start him on the bench and not in a traditional lineup, easier and more useful to use off the bench for many managers. Lukas Podolski is in a similar hybrid situation, but he’s nearly always had the trust of whatever manager and head coach he’s played for, getting the starts on a permanent basis.
Walcott’s goals against Southampton and Coventry, while his proclamation that he wants to follow in the footsteps of Thierry Henry, the club’s greatest scorer of the club, and was also a converted winger into a striker after he arrived depressed and demoralized from Juventus to London. A little work from Wenger, and Henry turned into, arguably, the best striker in the world over the previous decade.
Olivier Giroud, for now, is not the answer. Gervinho, a more classic winger in his style than Theo Walcott, will never be a goal-scoring option on a consistent basis. Lukas Podolski? Too effective as a player who comes from the left wing and ventures into the middle, concentrating on scoring and not on supplying balls to the non-striker at the moment. Playing with a threesome of Gervinho, Podolski and Walcott might be an option, but Wenger might feel that’s too adventurous against stronger teams, which he prefers to play with the midfield foursome he used against Manchester City – Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Abou Diaby and at the moment, Aaron Ramsey.
And that’s where Santi Cazorla comes in handy. Playing with only two forwards, for example Podolski and Walcott, still leaves an opening on the wing if one of them ventures to the middle. Having Santi Cazorla, who is the actual playmaker at this moment but also pretty much a free role player who goes and moves as he wishes, gives Wenger the option to start with a 4-4-2 without strikers that turns into something of a 4-3-3 or however you want to call it.
Natural striker? Arsene Wenger doesn’t have a capable on currently on his squad. Maybe he doesn’t need one, but for that to be proven he needs to give Walcott a real chance to prove his worth as a striker on this team, that is so far playing better (although not winning enough) than anyone expected. He needs the goals, from anyone, to eventually be in a good position to win the title when April and May arrive.