After all of the talk about Theo Walcott and the striker position, the England international really didn’t show anything that should win him a place in the starting lineup and in the position he prefers. Arsenal played bad once again, but won thanks to his dive in the box that won them a penalty and the winning goal, somehow propelling them to third place.
And that’s why Arsene Wenger keeps being so highly rated by the men in charge of the team. No matter the criticism of his style, his lack of titles and his spending policies, the man brings what the owners want. A team that considers the Champions League and the money brought with the finish among the top 4, which for Arsenal means third or fourth in recent years, will be pleased with this kind of end result.
Theo Walcott has been the man in the news for quite some time while Arsenal struggle. Should he or shouldn’t he be a striker; Should they or shouldn’t they accept his financial demands in the negotiations for a new contract. While Walcott provides a much more dynamic and quicker option for Arsenal at the front position when compared with Olivier Giroud, the only true striker in the squad, playing against teams like Wigan take out the edge and any kind of advantage he has in his game.
Walcott need space, Arsenal’s midfield needs space. Wigan came to ruin Arsenal’s passing game, which has hardly been showing this season accept for a burst of talent here and there. Walcott can’t hold up the ball or play with his back to the goal. In short, not exactly a classic number 9 or someone that can play in the striker position on his own.
But still, Arsenal’s best chance from open play came through his movement and speed, although he missed what should have been a definite goal in a one on one with Ali Al Habsi. Luckily for Arsene Wenger, instead of another depressing draw away from home (4 in 10 matches now), the slightest of nudges from Jean Beausejour resulted in Theo Walcott helping himself to the ground and the referee actually buying that dive. Mikel Arteta, hardly felt throughout the match, was calm and collected from the spot.
And that was pretty much it. At least Arsenal showed some toughness and composure, eventually leading to a rare clean sheet, in a match that was scrappy and physical from the first moment, not exactly the kind of away games you expect Arsene Wenger and his side to come out on top in.
While Lukas Podolski continues to disappear, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazrola work well together, although it was mostly in keeping the pace of the match and moving the ball sideways instead of forward. When you win, it’s called an efficient display in the midfield instead of an impotent one. The defense held up well under the pressure moments, with Bacary Sagna probably the most impressive member of the back four. While Carl Jenkinson is probably the right back of the future, Sagna still offers the best blend of defending and the ability to support the attack with his crossing. It’s good to see him coming back to himself.
Arsene Wenger should be happy. Despite all the criticism, he’s heading into the hectic Christmas period in good shape, with 30 points, putting him at third for the meantime. With this squad and with Arsenal’s ambitions, there’s not much more he can expect from this team.