Theo Walcott

Reading 5-7 Arsenal: Walcott plus Arsenal, the Gunners’ most effective duo

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Arsenal were so dire against Reading in the the first half since the manager choose a team who were overall short on experience, hasn’t played together much, and those who have played together featured several pairings which historically have not worked. But some times there’s no explaining football, it just ends up working.

The game against Reading was Carl Jenkinson’s 12th start (in all competitions) for Arsenal this season. That would be the most starts for any of the Arsenal players on the pitch yesterday. Coquelin was next in terms of overall starts for Arsenal with just 5, Koscielny 4, and Walcott has had 3 starts and 8 subs. There have been two starts for each of Arshavin, Miquel, Djourou, and Martinez and yesterday was the first start of the season for Fimpong, Chamakh, and Gnabry. As you can see, there were three players who were handed their first Arsenal start this season and a huge handful of players who almost never play together.

The players who have played together almost never do well. Walcott and Jenkinson don’t seem to understand each other and though they didn’t argue last night, as I have seen them in the past, they rarely hooked up in terms of passing. Instead, Walcott was most effective when he came inside and Arshavin could find him with a through ball. Coquelin and Frimpong are another pair that just don’t work together. Both are just too sloppy in possession to have on the field at the same time and they seem to have a problem passing to each other, covering for each other, and generally don’t seem to get along (cue the interview on the official site showing them as best friends forever). Add to that the pre-match interview with Frimpong in which he said that he’s not ready to play for Arsenal and you can see why Arsenal’s midfield allowed Leigertwood to bypass them and score like they were mired in treacle.

On the left, Arsenal played Miquel and Gnabry and it was an even bigger disaster than Coquelin and Frimpong or Walcott and Jenkinson. Miquel couldn’t cover crosses, always drifted into a center half position (though not in a way that helped as the Dread Pirate Roberts got between him and Koz), didn’t get  much defensive help from Gnabry, and Gnabry was a terrible outlet up front.

And the center back pairing of Djourou and Koscielny is one I hope to never see again. Koscielny looks to have reverted to the form from his first three games at Arsenal: he was thrown off the ball several times by Roberts (who, to be fair, got away with an extraordinary amount of shirt pulling), he scored an own goal, he couldn’t win a header, he played a man onside for their 5th goal, and he couldn’t clear the ball. Djourou had a better night, though he was also shucked to the ground by Roberts and didn’t really do well in the air despite his size advantage.

Meanwhile, the pairing of Arshavin plus “his prefered central midfield position” looked dangerous all night, both offensively and defensively. Clearly he had a good night offensively. He managed three assists, though there should be a dubious assists panel since at least one of those was a shot, and normally three assists is a great day at the office. But he was also his frustrating flick on, cute pass, wasteful self, who gave away the ball in the Arsenal backfield.

What do you do with Arshavin? Clearly he’s not going to change. He is never going to be a possession first type of player which is exactly what makes him both a genius and a fool. 50% of the time he’s passing a magnificent slide-rule pass to an onrushing Theo Walcott and 50% of the time he’s gifting possession back to the opposition with a Hollywood pass in Arsenal’s half. These stats are 100% true, because 50+50=100.

If there was one pairing that we’ve rarely seen work, however, it’s Chamakh plus Arsenal and to be fair to my criticism, he was horrible for most of the night. Yes, I am saying that a player who scored two goals was horrible. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it happened. Chamakh spent 110 minutes looking like a player who didn’t want the ball and 10 minute like a player who could score 40 goals for the club.

Frankly, I don’t know how 5-7 is at all possible, I can’t find an instance of a score like that in Arsenal’s history, but a 5-7 with Chamakh who scored twice, and both were from distance is simply some sort of surrealist art. Or maybe a 5-7 win with Chamakh scoring two goals from distance is Dada. Like Piero Manzoni’s “Artist’s Shit”.

Chamakh’s Goals
Contents 2
Preserved on DVR
Shot from distance
in October 2012

And finally, the pairing that no one is talking about but which should be the only thing we are talking about is Theo Walcott and “A New Contract.” The Arsenal man scored a hat trick last night and also managed a hat trick of assists. That is 6 of the 7 goals that Arsenal scored. That alone is proof that he never gave up on this Arsenal team.  From the moment of kickoff to Chamakh’s last goal of the game, Walcott was the Alpha and the Omega.

Walcott had Arsenal’s first goal and it was a goal that you could see was coming: Arshavin had been trying to find Theo’s run down the middle for 45 minutes before Reading finally gave up the space that Arsenal needed to exploit Theo’s pace. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pick up a through ball like that running at pace but I can tell you that it’s a lot harder than it looks and Theo’s first touch was as perfect as the little flick to score the goal. It was more than a goal, Theo rescued Arsenal with that goal and I don’t jusst mean rescued the match, he may have rescued Arsenal’s season. It gave the team just a glimmer of hope in an otherwise very dark first 45 minutes.

He then rescued Arsenal again at what looked to me like Arsenal’s lowest moment of the season, the 18 minutes after the second half kicked off. Arsenal started the second half looking like a team that was going to concede 8 to Reading. But there in the 64th minute, Theo Walcott took a corner and whipped a ball into Giroud. The big Frenchman did especially well to steer that on target but the pace on the ball did just as much work. 4-2 now and the little Englishman was feeling it.

Then in the 94th minute, again when all seemed lost, with the final kick of regulation time Walcott got on the end of a Chamakh header and powered a shot over the line. 4-4 to the Arsenal. Arsenal’s Newcastle moment and as dramatic a comeback as you will ever see without the help of the official awarding the comeback team two dubious penalties and a red card.

Reading would equalize again in extra time after Arsenal took a 5-4 lead from one of those two Chamakh long-distance shots. And then at 5-5 with literally no time left on the clock who would be there to score the sixth and rescue Arsenal from a penalty shootout? Theo.

Arshavin, who to his credit hadn’t stopped running all night, somehow found the energy to get all the way down field and past the entire Reading defense before hammering a shot that was cleared off the line. Fortunately, the Reading defender only got the ball to Walcott who blasted into the top of the net. The score was now 5-6 and Walcott’s subsequent celebration in front of the away fans, whom he seems to love so dearly as he spends a long time after every match applauding them, was pure love and adrenalin.

And then with the penultimate kick of the match, it was again Walcott. It always had to be Walcott. Kevin Friendofreading had added something like 20 minutes of time at the end of the game to give Reading another chance at winning, but Walcott hoofed the clearance up field, Chamakh was there to take it and with an extraordinary moment of lucidity chipped the keeper from distance. 5-7 to the Arsenal.

I know what I’ve been told was the stumbling block over the Walcott contract situation and at this point I’m starting to understand his demands. With yesterday’s hat-trick against Reading and a hat trick of assists, Theo Walcott has scored 7 goals for Arsenal (leads the club) and put in four assists. All of that in just three starts.

I’m not one to be over-reactive from a single game but yesterday’s 6 goals haul by Theo Walcott capped what has been an extraordinary season for any player, much less a player who is in the middle of a contract dispute with his club. What more does Walcott need to do to get an improved deal? Worse, what will the fallout be from Arsenal fans if Theo is let go in January? Even if he is replaced with Falcao, we will always wonder what could have been if Walcott had been played in his favorite pairing: Walcott plus Arsenal.

Qq

46 thoughts on “Reading 5-7 Arsenal: Walcott plus Arsenal, the Gunners’ most effective duo

  1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    You know what went through my mind while watching Theo almost singlehandedly dragging Arsenal back from a fucking 4 goal deficit?
    Wenger thinking to himself: Damn it, now selling him in January will create even a bigger problem.
    And I somehow feel this is true. I don’t want to see Walcott leave, especially since I feel he is very close to reaching his full potential, because the percentage of good games vs bad games has changed dramatically and he is now a very, very dangerous player.
    To let him go now, probably for the same fee he was bought will be completely mad. I don’t know his demands and I don’t care honestly, because apparently it is not about the money.
    And if that’s the case, unless he is demanding a virgin sacrifice before every game, I really have a hard time understanding Wenger’s refusal to agree.
    So, the sad thing is that my gut feeling tells me he will be sold in January, and once again, we will lose an important player. Will this be too much for this team, I don’t know. But I fear.

  2. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Blaze

    If I am not horribly wrong, frimpong- le
    coq – wilshere was the midfield which won the FA youth cup a couple of seasons ago.

  3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    Wow, somehow my English sounds real bad in the comment.
    Also, good game last day moon. I happy for win.
    Urgh.

  4. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1BayGooner

    I couldn’t watch the game, so tell me how Chamakh was so bad. Here’s someone who has played about 140 minutes in all of 2012 for Arsenal, and not more than about 25 minutes at a time since last January. Now he plays 126+ minutes, scores two goals, adds an assist, shoots when he can, is running hard at the very end, and you say he was terrible except in the last few minutes? Tell us when he found EPL game fitness to support such a performance?

    This may be a one-off for him, but it also may be a one-off for Theo. Arshavin made his first goal, and had the kicker been named Vela, everyone would be trashing his limitations. Not all assists are similar in being responsible for the goal, as we all know.

    I liked your break-down of on-field partnerships and how they performed. Good way to make sense of the poor effort in the first half.

    And on into the second. I am interested why no one sees the turning point as the replacement of Gnabry and Frimpong by Giroud and Eisfeld at 62 minutes, when Arsenal were still down by three. With these two, Arsenal scored three times in regular time and three more times in overtime, conceding only one. So I’d be curious to know your thoughts on this, and on the performance of the revised failed partnerships that Frimpong and Gnabry were parts of.

    1. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Chamakh ran around a lot in bursts in the second half but he never looked like he wanted the ball. Worse than than that, he looked timid. He rarely made himself available for passes and pulled out of every aerial duel I saw.

      My comment about the 10 minutes of good play weren’t just at the end, they were spread out throughout the entire 120. He was one of the grifters for most of the match. So, it’s not like he busted his hump for 120 minutes and I don’t think he looked match fit at all.

      Arshavin made the pass, Theo made the run, the touch, and the chip. As for the comment about Vela, I would just let that player go if I was you.

      When Giroud and Eisfeld came on, Arsene changed to a 4-2-4 with Eisfeld and Coquelin in the middle to do nothing but play as defenders, really. The goal that Giroud got Arsenal I’ve already mentioned. Eisfeld didn’t impress me but that makes me an extreme minority.

      What Giroud added was an aerial presence both offensively and defensively. That said, he didn’t win a ton of headers but perhaps just did enough making the Reading defenders nervous that it opened the channels for Theo.

      Not really sure. Most of the goals both for and against Arsenal were kind of flukes. But it wasn’t so much formation or tactics and Eisfeld certainly didn’t win the game for Arsenal (apart from not being Frimpong who was very poor) I think you just have to watch it to see that it was Theo’s workrate and desire. I know, that’s very English of me but that’s my answer.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1BayGooner

        Thanks for the follow-up. It comes as no surprise that Chamakh wasn’t match fit, esp for a match and a half, but I would not criticize him for it. I have no doubt if he were given ten straight starts in the first team, he would produce as he did the last time he was Van Persie’s replacement. And how many times has a striker done one thing in a match that is won one nil by that one thing.

        I would chill about Theo. Arshavin scored 4 against Liverpool, a better team than Reading. He had a great game, as he should have against such competition. BTW, neither here nor there, I don’t think his second goal went all the way over the line. Thankfully, Jenkinson made any complaint about that by Reading’s manager moot.

        As for Vela, my point is not that he should be back at Arsenal, but that too often it is the shooter, not what he does, that colors the commentary, and as AMERICANS (yuk yuk) we should be above that across-the-bond-nonsense. [Have to remove tongue from cheek before I choke]

        Which leads to my last point — that pass of Atrshavin’s was an example of his 50% not just good, as was his shot that Theo tapped in. At his age, he ought to be a prime retention for Arsenal. A perfect aging superstar who can make a huge impact at the right time, and on a regular, if reduced basis — if he agrees with that.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Oh, and Giroud for Gnabry was, well, Giroud scored. Gnabry didn’t do anything. Except one dive. Which made the baby Jesus cry.

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1matthew

    i have said it before and i will say it yet again, we need theo on this team. the best is yet to come from him.

  6. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1skyranger

    Did anyone clock the very competent game Eisfeld had . I for one am quietly excited vy his progress..

    1. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      I clocked it at about 1.7MPH. Not sure exactly what everyone thought was so great except that he wasn’t Frimpong.

      1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

        Are you serious ?! …. Watch the game again and you’ll see what you’ve somehow missed.
        He was different class. He was possibly the sharpest player on the pitch. His touch, movement, passing, drive from midfield. So much quality !

      2. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        I have watched it twice from cover to cover, watched the highlights, and listened to the commentary live.

        I disagree.

      3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

        Not sure why there was any need to listen to the commentary :P
        You’ve probably not seen the game in real time, and probably watched the shorter highlights.
        If you have a link to the longer highlights please share. I can’t seem to find a working one.
        After our first half performance, where neither Coquelin nor Frimpong was even half decent, comparing that to Eisfeld in the second half, Eisfeld was a revelation. I’m not sure how anybody misses that, unless they haven’t seen the whole game live.
        Did you watch the game live ?

      4. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        I watched every second of the game, twice, on Arsenal.com.

        I’m a red level member and they have the game in its entirety free to Red Level members on Arsenal Player.

      5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

        Well I guess he’s not as good as Theo. I mean Theo’s better than Falcao after all. LOL.
        There’s a job opportunity for you here. Seems with the contract talks, Theo’s agent isn’t able to get him what he wants. I bet you could do the job better :P …. Wait a minute. You’re not THE Tim, Theo’s agent ? So that’s how you know what he wants. It’s all starting to make sense now. lol

      6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Eisfeld made a massive difference for us coming on.

        Played the ball quicker and distributed it wide faster.

        Walcott gets the accolades fo his hat trick but this was not the Theo Walcott show.

        Had Wenger not elected 4-1-5/4-2-4 with Coquelin holding and Eisfeld joining the frontline in pressing further forward, we would have been infinitely less effective as evident by continued lacklustre in the start of the second half.

        Also helpful was Giroud’s presence which helped to create the extra space necessary for Walcott/Arsharin to exploit (plus tired legs with Reading)

        Ze Germans are coming.;)

  7. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

    Tim, both Walcott and Falcao are of course World Class.
    However, I have conclusive evidence that Falcao is an upgrade. No need to worry about any what-ifs if one hypothetically replaces the other:
    In last Sunday’s game I was channeling Falcao, and boy I was feeling it. It was my best game in a long long time. When I channel Walcott, the signal isn’t clear and my passes and shots are a bit off. And I get loose bowels after the game. So I don’t channel Walcott anymore.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Everything about this post is correct: Alex is a football LARPer (Live Action Role Player).

      Last year his character was named Ozil. He has the shirt and everything. The year before, Benzema. This year, Falcao.

      I’ve tried to give him a real nickname, his own, but he prefers to LARP other people.

      It’s odd.

      1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

        It’s not odd Tim, it’s very common. Maybe it’s odd to you because you didn’t grow up playing football as a kid like I did. Although I guess you can say that maybe I need to grow up and stop doing it… but what can I say, I am a child at heart.
        And for the record, I never ever channel Benzema. Not quite sold on him yet… Players I channel: Falcao, Ozil, Cazorla.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Getting a bit carried away.

      Walcot tis no where near as complete a player as Falcao.

      This is Reading int he Mickey Mouse cup we are talking about.

      Yes Walcott was good but so were a number of toher players.

      Arsharvin for starters. Get a grip.

  8. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

    I want to know what Theo’s demands are.
    Email me if you don’t want to say publicly ! But do tell me please. This is frustrating !

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

    What makes me curious about the last match is what will be it’s biggest effect? On the negative, there’s Koscielny, who might potentially be the new Djorou; also the performance of Frimpong, who did not convince me although Tim said that his technique is better than the perceptions of some people thoughtl and don’t forget that I’m pretty sure our performance got better only when the 4th goal was conceded.

    The positive might have been better though, with Walcott performances, which encapsulated by Tim in this post brilliantly; Arsenal arguably hardest come back, but it could have been eclipsed if only we could catch our goal deficit again AC Milan; Arshavin work rate and contribution, which paid up for Arsenal; Chamack braces, which might return his confidence and recaptured his first season half performance for the club; and finally Arsenal comeback spirit, which seems to be lost when RvP was sold to Man Utd.

    On the other hand, I felt Tim assessment of Walcott performances focus entirely on what he had done on the match. Somehow I feel he is becoming like Adebayor, who thrived on the not so good opposition. It’s not bad and Adebayor hattrick at the time, help us a lot just like Walcott did in the COC. But I actually want a view on the opposition team too and how could Walcott gave that kind of contribution. Is it just like people suggesting that once again he thrived when opposition gave him a space to run into or he beginning to carve open his own space with his hard work, technique, and vision? It might well be his game that he did best when opposition gave him his space, but that also his biggest weakness which might not warrant him his latest contract with Arsenal.

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      Well I don’t think Walcott needs “not so good opposition” but he does need space. Look at his memorable performance against Chelsea last year. Pretty much all his best games are against teams that push up. Reading, as BM pointed out, pushed forward plenty of times after they were 4-0 up and Theo caught them out. But when the opposition packs it back, I can’t remember Theo ever really being the decisive factor. Can you pay a player 100k a year when 3 out of 4 opponents pack their own penalty area and the player isn’t effective?

      I like Theo, I want to see him back, and I think he is a valuable player who has the potential to be worth the money… but he has to show the versatility to be effective against the ultra-defensive opponents Arsenal usually face in order to warrant that money now. It’s a tough decision and I hope Arsene gets it right. There are big risks either way.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        He’s plenty effective against tightly packed defenses. He created a goal off a corner and his third goal came against a well packed Reading.

        It’s something of a trope that Theo is only effective against teams that give him room. I put it in the same category as “Theo isn’t a finisher”, “Theo lacks a footballing brain”, and “Theo is a one trick player”. In fact, it’s just an extension of the last.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

        Yeah. thank you Tim. This is the kind of details that I want to know. Although I do watched the game and notice that the only goal that Theo had the space to run into was the first goal with him in the central position. I do agree too with Arsene’s statements that Theo two goals is the kind of goals that strikers scored and that means it’s another dimension that Theo add to his quality. Arsenal would be hard to find his replacement if he can’t be tied to a new contract.

      3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

        Wonder why this is turning into a defence of Theo.

        His third goal did not come against a well packed Reading at all. Arshavin got the ball out wide. There were 3 Arsenal players against 3 Reading players up front. Arshavin runs at the RB, goes past him easy, takes a shot, the defender at the far post clears it off the line. It falls kindly to Theo, who places it in the net.

        Now I’m really having doubts as to which match you’ve just seen on Arsenal Player.

        Theo definitely is a finisher. A very good finisher. But he also is a one-trick player, at least out wide on the right he definitely is. Wonder why in his defence you didn’t mention that he’s being played out of position. That’s one of the bigger issues in my book. A right footed striker would find it easier to attack down the left flank rather than the right. So he’s at a major disadvantage being played out wide on the right.

        The thing with his brain, I think, is that it’s not as quick as his feet. So he ends up stumbling over himself in tight spaces and even when he’s running at full speed.

        But the whole Arsenal system these days, with our solely-on-the-ground-sideways-passing football is that it’s usually too slow and we let the defence get back into position and organize, and if it’s a team that likes to sit back with 10 men, then we’re letting them create a mountain for us to climb – making it harder to break them down. We’re predictable with the system we play. Where other teams have the ability to change their system based on the players available and the opposition, we’re indifferent.

        Coming back to Theo, we should remember that there are issues/shortcomings/problems with the way we play as a team and sometimes factors other than one player’s own shortcomings may be the reason for his poor performances.So let’s factor in that as well when criticizing a player.

      4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        I went back and watched the final five minutes of the game again (again, again, again) and I am right, Reading were playing two banks of four for the last 5 minutes looking for the penalty shootout.

        However, they broke for an attack at literally the last minute of the game and Arshavin’s counter and shot set up Theo’s goal.

        Couple of things here: teams that pack it in do eventually attack. It’s extremely rare that they don’t attack at all. When they do, having a player like Theo on the team is always useful. The other thing that I would point out is that Theo is open for the shot and calling for the ball long before “It falls kindly to Theo”. Arshavin probably should have passed Theo the ball.

        As for “tripping over his feet in tight spaces” you’re right, I remember him being tripped in tight spaces against Chelsea last season when we beat them 5-3 with Theo scoring a great goal whilst being tripped in tight spaces.

        Anyway, it’s been nice talking to you.

      5. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        They were very open in Extra time. Particularly when they got the fifth goal and decided they may actually win it.

        Not sure what you were watching.

      6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Again, this is a trope. Yes he is more effective in a counter attacking situation but he scores against ultra-defensive teams and he scores in tight situations.

        I’m going to address this in a blog post rather than a comment.

      7. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        First and third goal were from counter attacks for Walcott.

        Not the second but Reading were very porous for that one.

        Walcott could play off a big man but not on his own. That said, there are a number of other players who can also play off the big man.

        What Walcott has is abundantly pace. His control has got better and he strikes with good precision. He is a useful asset to me cutting in from a deeper wing position (what Wenger has been trying with Ramsey to no avail). Ditto whoever plays LW (Podolski or Arsharvin)

        That may dictate a sligth change in formation which will help favour our wingbacks (particularly Sagna who does much of his defensive work up field and Santos whom as we know doesn’t do too much defending if he can)

        If you like, it’s a bit of an arrow head formation :

        ………………………..CF………………………………..
        ……….LW…………….CAM………RW……………….
        LWB……………………………………………………RWB
        ………………..CM……………..CM………………………
        …………………CB………………CB……………………..

        One of the CM will link play with the CAM and the other must shuffle to either flank when need be to cover the wingbacks.

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve

    Hi Tim – I’m a US-based EPL fan and usually enjoy your analysis. As a neutral observer though, I have to say that I find your remarks that “Kevin Friendofreading had added something like 20 minutes of time at the end of the game to give Reading another chance at winning” a bit disingenuous and lacking in objectivity. Had the tables been turned at the end of normal time and Reading, rather than Arsenal, equalized in the 95th minute, I’m sure Arsene Wenger would have been going nuts on the touchline and you’d have something equally sarcastic about the ref then.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1tytee

        Really ? So Reading were wasting time after going 1 – 0 up ?
        Blimey, how did they manage to score 4 goals then in the first 37 minutes ?
        I seem to remember they were too busy scoring goals and not time-wasting after 20 mins as you say.
        Some people are seriously not sober right now …

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1pat

        might not necessarily (just) time wasting but trying to slow the game down to rest their players, regain shape, and break up rhythm of oppostion.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      You caught me. He didn’t actually add 20 minutes and actually Arsenal benefitted greatly from all the time he added and Arsenal were the only ones to get a yellow card for time wasting.

      So, yeah, I guess that little bit of hyperbole there didn’t really work too well as a joke?

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff

    Have to say we’ve nurtured Theo’s raw talent for 6 years, the last two seasons he’s improved and become more dangerous in leaps an bounds, it’s imperative we keep him, Ivan time to earn your £2 million!

  12. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Of all the goals that Arsenal scored against reading…I think Chamakh’s first goal was the best…nice little back flick at the side, keeping the ball in against tight markers…releasing himself getting back to the centre…picking up the pass from Arshavin..a fantastic picking up of the spot to drive in from outside the box….That goal put reading in its place…behind us..

    My take on Theo is that if he wants to sign he will…There is not much Arsenal can do about it…
    Arsenal and Arsene have taken real pains to get this guy to where he is today, giving him opportunities, helping him through his tough times, giving him back the confidence when he comes back crocked from the England set up, using his strengths to the best effect without hampering the team…He has no divine right to make demands on what he wants now at Arsenal…both in terms of pay or position.
    Given that Arsenal and Arsene have taken this big burden to get him till here they would not be stupid enough to waste his talent by ignoring his strengths and not nurturing him further…

    But I think its pay back time for Theo than Arsenal taking that extra mile to please him…I think Theo has been truly professional in his approach and would be a good judge of how much more he can be at Arsenal…And I am tired of this lining up like for like replacement…that rarely happens..

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    I want Theo to stay. Now I never think anyone will stay. It’s been beaten out of me. I just try to stare at the shirts and see the crest and color, never faces or sponsors. I’d rather be numb than in pain.

  14. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    I have to admit, I was relatively sanguine about the prospect of Theo’s potential transfer from the club. While I remain somewhat skeptical over a long term future in as a lone center forward, Walcott has done enough this season to deserve at least a run out in the center. Despite leading the team in goals and being a willing runner who gets himself into dangerous positions, I’m still unconvinced that Gervinho has the necessary cojones to deliver goals when we really need them. Plus, it seems rather likely given the way he was stretchered off that he’ll be unavailable for awhile anyway. Giroud has shown potential but is unsurprisingly taking time to adjust to demands of the BPL. Le Boss seems unwilling to move Podolski centrally. I guess that leaves Theo. It’s rather unfortunate for Theo that he played the full 120′ vs Reading because ManUre might have been a good game to try him at striker. They will be confident and looking to pin us back and there will be space behind the ManUre defense.

    I do worry once again about the infamous wage structure. By many reports, Walcott’s demand of £100,000/wk would make him the club’s highest wage earner. I’m rather incredulous that a club with as high an overall wage bill as Arsenal’s has no player earning that much already. Offhand, I would think that Arteta, Cazorla, and perhaps even Podolski would merit wages equal to or even higher than that. It certainly raises the issue of us overpaying for squad players and not paying the true difference makers enough. On the one hand, if he can continue to show the same scoring efficiency starting BPL and Champions League games as he’s shown in substitute appearances and the COCup, his market value probably is higher than he’s demanding. But, even with his his goalscoring exploits at COCup level, I’m not he merits being the highest paid player at the club.

    Sometimes the clubs wage (and transfer fee, for that matter) negotiations seems truly naive. They seem to set an internal value on a player without recognizing that an external market even exists. It’s like if I wanted to buy a house in a certain neighborhood. A realtor says the house I want is $1,000,000. I say MY valuation is $500,000 and proceed to tell him why. The realtor’s reply is all the homes in this neighborhood sell for a million and if don’t want to pay that much, someone else will. And then I’ll walk away without a house muttering about how stupid people are to pay that much.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I don’t see Walcott as a CF.

      I think he is still best out wide @RW but cutting in when need be and supported by Sagna.

      He had much joy against Reading who ere very open at the back (ditto Arsharvin who came in more centrally).

      Against a tighter more circumspect defense, Walcott will not be quite as effective through the middle.

      But he is a very good asset oddly push to the periphery with this ludicrous contract issue.

      To me, we should have sold him in the summer and got someone in we could use with no consequence.

      Instead, this has dragged and Walcott is used sparingly. I say we use him to the max now at least till he gets sold on because Ramsey RW is not particularly convincing.

      But the performance will further strengthen his side’s hand with contract negotiations so I can’t see any compromise anytime soon. All this talk about Walcott playing through the middle by Wenger simply seems like fluff and desperation on our part because of our weak hand at the moment.

      It will be a pity losing him because (like Song) he has finally started to shine through and be a more complete player. Someone will undoubtedly benefit from our loss.

      Looks like the board will have to think very long and hard on this one and see whether we can come close to accommodating his wage demands. OTOH,ultimately, he is easily replaceable.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Some thoughts on players :

    1) Miquel. Had a torrid time first half but likely by end of season to takeover from Djourou as fourth choice

    2) Coquelin. He started of poorly with Frimpong but got better with Eisfeld and working alone to patrol in front of the backline.

    As mentioned, I think the 120minutes of his play are crucial for us as he is thus far the most likely back up for Arteta. Whilst not as clinical in possession/distribution, he has plenty of energy/tenacity and his distribution over the top (Song style) is quite good. In a restricted role, he may be sufficient if he takes on the lessons well.

    3) Arsharvin – Excellent work from the Russian. IN all honestly I have no idea why we are not fully utilising our assets at the moment. Rather than simply placing a sqyare peg ina round hole (read Ramsey RW), we could have used AA’s excellent vision and passing in tight spaces (to my mind almost better than Santi’s) to good effect with Santi pushed wide. IMO both man will benefit from each other’s technical ability particularly when situation dictates us play against teams sitting very deep.

    A lot of mention here about Walcott so I won’t join the love fest but the other side of the coin was Arsharvin which combined to great effect with Theo down the middle. That said, don’t get carried away as this was against a very open Reading, albeit walcott was excellent.

    4) Eisfeld. He’ll be pushing Ramsey to eventually replace Rosicky (Tommy for Tommy). He made a massive impact coming on driving forward and moving play quicker for us. Along with Gnabry, Miquel, he is the other youngster which looks set to start coming into the first team this season.

    5) Gnabry. Flashes of brilliance and plenty of power, close control but quite evidently lots to learn fro the youngster. We are not short in supply with pacy wingers. I would think if Walcott levaes that Wenger may place his trust in Gnabry(and Ryo) as the future out wide, which to my mind is a mistake. We still IMO need craft and guile out wide and can benefit from someone with the technicality to combine with Santi in tight space (particularly in view of eventually replacing Arsharvin) and backing up the Spaniard.

    I think Ben Afra has been mentioned or KOnoplyanka also looks a useful target. Maybe Affelay but his older.

    On the face of it, @17, we should give Gnabry (and Ryo) maybe 1-2 more seasons to fully work in.

    6) Giroud. Made an immediate ipact and great to see Walcott planting in good corsses for both big men to take advantage of. Who says we have no plan B and kudos to Wenger for taking the gamble and going 4-1-5/4-2-4.

    What I’d say about Giroud is he is quick to take a snap shot and his power/ability to spread our play in that box area is excellent. Great header and he’ll get more goals for us on evidence.

    7) Chamakh. It was vital that Chamakh get some time on the ball particularly with the paucity of options for us up front. we will likely need him before Jan and the two goals he nicked for us (both well taken) will do him a world of good…and us.

    Al lot is being made about Walcott at the moment and rightly so.

    But I do think we also have to consider that there are other players on the fringe that are showing great utility and hunger for us.

    Simply put, we have resources and we are not using them at the moment.

    Hope Wenger realises this and finds a way to work some of these assets back in to help the first team.

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