Did Theo Walcott do Enough Against West Ham to Earn a Starting Spot at Arsenal?


Theo Walcott was handed a golden opportunity to shoulder his way into starting squad talk against West Ham, as he was given a rare start at right wing. Slotting out opposite Alexis Sanchez and next to Mesut Ozil guaranteed plenty of opportunities for Walcott and he had plenty of opportunities indeed. But he took none.

Then again, he did create chances with his runs. He should have had a penalty (although one could argue he should have taken the shot earlier). He also had two other golden opportunities on goal, one of which he stuck right at Adrian and one he slipped up and skied.

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But it’s not his offensive prowess that’s been in question. We know he can make runs. We know he can score. What he needs to prove he can do is defend. If you compare his heat map to that of Alexis Sanchez via WhoScored.com, it’s clear who worked harder. However, you will notice that Walcott did track back on defense. He also tallied an interception and a clearance.

So Theo Walcott isn’t completely allergic to defense. The question is whether or not he can acclimate, as has been the question in literally all of our contract speculation.

Walcott was subbed off in the 71st for Santi Cazorla and yet Alexis, who was taken out seven minutes earlier, still worked much harder and traveled much more than his counterpart. That may seem like moot talk, but if Theo Walcott is serious about re-inserting himself into this Arsenal starting squad, he’s going to have to start outshining someone, and he just didn’t today.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Theo Walcott start against Monaco, depending on Wenger’s tactics and if he plays Coquelin or not. He proved today what we already knew, he’s fast, he makes great runs, and he can get to the goal. We’ve seen in the past he can finish, so that should come as well. Against Monaco, we’re going to need all the attack we can get.

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While he may have let us down today, Walcott can make a huge impact against Monaco. When you’re playing alongside Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud (who’s passing is incredibly underrated), Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, you’re going to find yourself in chances to score. It just so happens Walcott has a knack for finding finding chances to score even without such a studly cast, but combined, he could very easily be the difference maker against Monaco.

And if we’re being honest, he kind of has to be a difference maker for Arsenal. When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes back, he’s going to be clamoring to get back in the starting squad and with how well Aaron Ramsey played today, it’s going to be impossible to keep him out. Again, what Arsene Wenger told BBC Sports about Walcott having to compete for his spot is coming true.

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