For reasons a bit different than those that we’ll mention further down this post, Theo Walcott won’t be starting for Arsenal in the Champions League, this time because he’s suffering from an illness that might keep him on the bench or might him rule him out completely for the match, making things simpler for Arsene Wenger.
The arrows and darts are coming at all directions at the French manager, who bought himself a month of silence during a promising start to the season, before putting together three Premier League losses to Chelsea, Norwich and Manchester United, all while displaying a less than impressive form and added another defeat at home in the Champions League to Schalke. Great times indeed.
Theo Walcott’s form in the league cup and specifically after his hat trick against Reading has caused for a great demand to include the 23 year old England international in the starting lineup, as a striker. While Walcott has traditionally been used as a winger, Arsenal’s problem at the position, either playing players who aren’t suited for the position (Gervinho, Podloski) or simply starting someone who is struggling to adapt and raise his game to the necessary level in the Premier League, Olivier Giroud.
Well, Walcott has played in 8 Premier League matches this season, starting in only one of them, the first game of the season, a 0-0 draw vs Sunderland. What changed since then? Walcott refusing to sign an extension at Arsenal’s terms, which has led to some sort of freezing out by Arsene Wenger, who keeps changing things up front but not thinking, up until now, about Walcott as a possible solution to his goal scoring problems.
It is nothing linked to his contract at all. It’s because I have played other players, simple as that. We started the season well. He was injured too. You do not want to base your contract negotiations on one game. I put him in straightaway for one game when he was not completely ready. He started to practice and on Saturday he played 38 minutes of a game – you can’t say he’s not played.
Is anyone satisfied with this answer? Probably not. Not when Wenger himself spoke about Walcott’s refusal to sign an extension, and the whole organization pretty much saying they won’t break the club’s wage structure to accommodate one player’s demands, despite the profits that Arsenal keep posting, higher than any club in England or in Europe.
Arsenal are a financial organization run to make a profit. From a club that competes with the best player in the league it has turned into somewhat of a feeder club, talking about trying to win titles but not doing enough to achieve that goal. This season, suddenly Wenger began talking about just reaching the Champions League is good enough for him. Quite a differing view from what has been the official stance for quite some time now: We want to win titles, we’re about winning titles, and we’ll get there when everyone around us falls apart financially. Meanwhile, every good+ player that has been consistently productive at the Emirates has made his way to a bigger and better team.
Now, even Walcott, who has been nowhere near consistent since arriving at the club in 2006 but has been gradually improving and turning in more class performances, seems to be on his way out. While paying a player more money doesn’t make him better, Wenger ignoring all the signs and telling everyone that he’s benching Walcott for professional-health reasons isn’t the greatest fortitude of honesty. On the other hand, it seems that Wenger has been talking so much BS in his maneuvering and making up excuses for yet another doomed season, what’s a little fib about why he’s not playing Walcott?