With Theo Walcott expected to return within the next couple of weeks, just how badly have Arsenal missed the England international?
The dreaded anterior cruciate ligament injury is what ruled Theo Walcott out of action for over six months. It was a long lay off for Walcott who was forced to watch his side lift the FA Cup and Community Shield whilst also having to endure England’s disappointing World Cup campaign from home rather than Brazil itself. However, despite Arsenal finally putting their trophy drought to an end, his influence has been missed hugely.
It was the Gunners successful cup run that saw Walcott get injured, as he was stretchered off in the third round win over Spurs in which that infamous 2-0 gesture was so sprightly used. Although karma came back to bite him with a lengthy injury lay-off, it was Arsenal who reigned supreme.
Over each season Walcott has been at Arsenal he seems to have become more significant as time has gone by. Signed from Southampton at just 16, it wasn’t until after the 2006 World Cup that he received his Premier League debut. Since then he hasn’t looked back scoring 69 times in 289 appearances under the guidance of Wenger. His importance was recognised by increasing his salary to keep him at the club as he signed a new contract in the winter of the 2012/13 season. It was a campaign which was his most successful too, netting 21 times in all competitions. Without him though, Arsenal haven’t just lacked a potent goal threat but the ability to score goals all round has almost been lost.
With Walcott, Arsenal have greater width and the ability to play the ball in behind has been effectively non-existent without him in the side. Alexis Sanchez was brought in as a result and with both him and Theo playing Arsenal should have no troubles getting in behind the opposition defence. Last season when he was injured, the Gunners were restricted to playing quite a narrow game and as has been seen way too often in recent times, Arsenal have suffered because of injuries. What might have been had the likes of Ramsey, Ozil and Walcott himself stayed fit.
Walcott has the ability to scare opposition defences to pieces with his pace and is able to make defenders back pedal into dangerous areas, which was something that Arsenal lacked hugely in the latter part of the 2013/14 season. He, meanwhile, always seems to turn up in the big games, and as people know too well, Arsenal rarely do well against their top four rivals so it’ll be vitally important for the Gunners to welcome him back.
A few players individually have suffered at the hands of Walcott’s absense too. Mesut Ozil’s link-up play with Walcott on his debut against Sunderland last season looked like a sign of things to come, especially after seeing him and Ronaldo at Real Madrid. Instead they never really got the chance to play with each other last season and one of the reasons Ozil perhaps didn’t gain as many assists was due to the fact that no one was making runs in behind. Giroud was another player whose season was impacted upon as with Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured, Arsenal didn’t have any quick wingers to deliver balls into the box as was done so often when they were in the team.
With Walcott, Alexis and Welbeck now all being involved within the same team, Arsenal shouldn’t suffer from a lack of width and pace again. Providing they stay fit that is. It’s easy to forget that Walcott is only 25 as well; incredibly he’s in his tenth season at the club and is quickly becoming one of Arsenal’s most seasoned professionals.
Arsenal with the imminent return of Walcott is set to get their “winning mojo” back soonest
Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook
for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.