Arsenal fans will soon be warmed by the sight of Theo Walcott donning red-and-white once again after a nine-month injury lay-off, but where will their hero slot back into Arsene Wenger’s ‘master’ plan?
The natural assumption would be in a wide-forward position. After all, this is the role Wenger has consistently bestowed upon the England man since establishing his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation at the Emirates several seasons ago.
Indeed Walcott was last seen occupying said slot before exiting the north London derby on a stretcher way back in January, as Arsenal dumped Tottenham out the FA Cup en-route to eventual glory.
The timing of Walcott’s return means he’ll just miss out on the next edition of the local feud, with Spurs the next Premier League visitors to the Emirates, where the Gunners are 5/6 favourites for the points.
However, the inscrutable Frenchman has also hinted many times in the past that once Theo’s apprenticeship on the flanks had been served, he would indeed be transitioned, Thierry-Henry style, into a centre-forward.
Apart from a handful of past appearances as a number nine, Wenger has so far recoiled on his pledge.
Surely though, the time to make good on those assurances is now? Walcott will be coming back into a side where Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Carzola, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell are all vying for one of the three berths.
Meanwhile, up front Olivier Giroud is crocked, goal-less Yaya Sanogo looks like a flop and new signing Danny Welbeck still has much to prove.
Walcott has proved he is a natural finisher, regularly hitting double figures, where his best tally of 21 goals arrived during the 2012/13 campaign.
At 25 he still has pace to burn and it feel like it’s now or never to realise his central ambitions.
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