He’s been highly-rated for some time, but Theo Walcott is finally starting to show some steady progress. With several goals already in the bag for the campaign, Walcott has developed an appetite for shooting rather than crossing and with fresh demands for a central role now tickling the ears of manager Arsene Wenger, there is indeed a tactical decision to make. But, would Theo Walcott really make a good striker?
The answer is yes. His blistering pace alone is a problem for any defender. Not only this, but his finishing has become clinical. His most recent strike against Shakhtar Donetsk was very well taken and demonstrated composure reminiscent of that of a certain Arsenal legend named Thierry Henry.
That aforementioned pace would make him an ideal winger and admittedly, that’s how he’s been used for quite some time, but there has been one notable and conspicuous problem with Walcott out wide- his end product (crossing). Walcott’s crosses are very poor/over-hit nine times out of ten and it’s that kind of crossing that has hindered his development in that without proper end-product, he had little or no effect on the game and had to be either subbed or content with a place on the bench (for club and country). His injury problems over the years haven’t helped either. Various spells on the sidelines over the years, coupled with his lack of end-product, had seemingly put him on track to becoming one of those highly-rated youngsters that amount to nothing when they grow up.
But since taking a direct route to goal these days, his influence on the game has grown because rather than wasting possession by over-hitting crosses, he is now sticking the ball in the back of the net. But, if Wenger did decide to play Walcott centrally, what kind of selection problem does that create for him?
We’re very much aware of the fact that Arsene Wenger loves to use the 4-3-3 system. Walcott usually plays on the right of that front three. Given the amount of central midfielders at Wenger’s disposal, I propose that he use a 4-2-2-2 system to accommodate Walcott as a central striker. That system would also see the likes of Wilshere, Fabregas, Song and Nasri keep their places in the side, despite a striker being added to the lineup. Up front with Walcott, there is a spot that either Bendtner, van Persie, Chamakh or even Carlos Vela can occupy. Another convenience with this system is that it allows for the free-flowing, attractive football that we’ve always loved to see from Arsenal.
Focusing on Walcott once more, this new central role can even kick things off for him on an international level. At a time when Fabio Capello is looking for the nation’s youth to stand up and be counted, Theo Walcott can prove himself to be a man among boys. There are concerns about who Wayne Rooney’s partner should be. Well, Walcott can prove that he is capable of providing a solution (even a long-term one) to that problem.
All in all, I believe that Theo Walcott can be a top quality striker. He believes it as well and Arsene Wenger is also confident that he can pick up where Thierry Henry left off. Hey, he’s already got the club’s legendary number 14, so why not give him the central role that can make him potentially as great as its previous wearer?