Yesterday morning I had a bit of time free and deciding to avoid re-watching more recent matches, I re-watched last years 5-2 home win against the old enemy. It made me a sad to watch. To see players who worked well together and players who supported our star striker.
Obviously we no longer have Van Persie, but two other players who scored in that match may also be leaving soon! I’m talking of course of Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna.
Sagna has been making disturbing noises, along the lines made by Van Persie, and inspired by Van Persie. It seems he no longer believes the Arsenal dream, and might just be having his head turned by the bucket-loads of cash being raked in by Van Persie, and other ex-colleagues. I’m far less worried about him leaving that I was this time last year, as Jenkinson has already begun delivering on the obvious potential. Is he ready to take over as first choice right back? Hmmmmm, maybe… just maybe. But don’t get me wrong – I’d rather Sagna stayed to enjoy success with us!
Walcott got a brace in that match last year and his display in tandem with Van Persie was impresive. Certainly at that time he was building a great relationship on the field with Van Persie which was beginning to pay dividends.Can Theo build a similar relationship with someone else? I’m thinking of Giroud of course, because at the moment I don’t see much future for Gervinho (hope that changes).
I don’t see Theo being a lone striker, he’s just not that strong. Theo of course wants to be played up front in the middle, and so far Wenger has consistently played him out right. Given Gervinho’s performance (or lack of) at Norwich, I don’t see it as much of a problem to at least give Theo at go in the middle. It could hardly be worse!
There are two issues with the Theo problem:
- If he’s played on his own up front in the middle (in a lone striker position) then whilst it might be successful, it turns us into a George Graham team, where the focus of the team is simply hoofing the ball up into the box for the striker to get on to. Is that so bad? Well Wenger appears to dislike that option, preferring a more attractive style of play where everyone in the team has to be skilful, not just having the ability to hoof it up..
- If he’s played with a partner up front (like Giroud), then the partnership of different styles has a chance to produce fruit in much the same way Theo and Van Persie was beginning to. That would mean the team would have to play 4-4-2 though, and Wenger appears to dislike that option, preferring the 4-3-3 formation.
So, will Theo stay? Will he be given the opportunity to prove himself? If you agree with the two issues above the likely answer is ‘no’. Sadly.
That Sagna and Theo may go makes me sad. They, and indeed Robin Van Persie, had a future at Arsenal. They could have stayed to make it with Arsenal. Instead their impatience got the better of them. Their impatience, and the temptations of their greedy agents.
It’s difficult ending this on a positive note – only the hope that they’ll stay.
Tonight Arsenal will play Reading in the League Cup, and it’s likely Wenger will select a team of youngsters. I just wonder if Wenger will experiment with Theo up front in the line-up. Let’s hope so.