Finding himself suspended in a state of positional purgatory at Arsenal, Theo Walcott has felt compelled to set his stall out ahead of the new season.
In a desperate bid to avoid another campaign where confusion over his role in the team hinders his involvement Walcott said: “I want to make my position on the right – that’s where I know where I am now. I’ve told the manager that I want to be known for playing on the right again, although I can play up front.”
While this is an understandable, even admirable, show of assertion from the 43-capped England player, it seems flawed nonethless.
After a decade plugging away on the Arsenal wing, the irony is not lost either.
Arsene Wenger’s fingerprints are all over this mess in fairness. Since the Frenchman plucked a teenage Walcott from Southampton’s bosom a decade ago, it was continually mooted that he would serve an apprenticeship out wide for several seasons before, in Thierry Henry-like fashion, he would be converted into a central striker.
Despite Walcott scoring 13 times from the flanks during 2010/11 and notching 21 in all competitions just two seasons later, that long-awaited metamorphosis into a striker never occurred…until last term that is.
Like the dormant secret agent, Walcott emerged from his 10-year undercover assignment to begin life as a fully-fledged centre-forward. The problem was, his master lacked faith and patience.
Once the inevitable injury struck Arsenal’s number 14 down for the whole November schedule, the kybosh was well and truly placed on the experiment even though the player praised more for his finishing than any other attribute had scored three times in six games during September while leading the line.
Olivier Giroud was reinstated as first-choice target man and even more ignominiously for Walcott, he was soon battling with a host of others for the two wide-forward berths, and regularly losing out, for the rest of the season.
Now, in spite of Arsenal failing to add to their perennially skinny striker stocks (containing only Giroud and an almost permanently crocked Danny Welbeck) during the off-season, the St Albans native has decided he wants to carry on scrapping out wide rather than seizing the moment.
Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi all enjoyed spells on Arsenal’s right last season.
Add Walcott and possibly even rumoured transfer target Riyad Mahrez to that congestion in 2016/17.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.