Walcott never will be an impact player against a compact defence but Giroud can be so….

Not fair to expect and impact in 15 minutes

I’ll get straight to the point: can someone explain the logic of substituting Olivier Giroud with Theo Walcott when the opposite team defends well deep into their half?

I don’t get it and yet Arsène Wenger does it quite often.

A common sight these days

At a time in the game that saw us putting some real pressure on Liverpool’s defensive line, the manager decided to replace the Frenchman with Feo, who couldn’t find one single space to run into and obviously had no impact whatsoever in the final minutes of the encounter.

Brendon Rodgers and his clearly disproportioned teeth called it right in deciding to surround our playmakers through the middle and found the perfect way to keep us quiet until the final whistle by replacing an attacking midfielder (Coutinho) with an extra defender (Moreno).

How could you possibly expect Theo Walcott to run past a defensive line composed of two holding midfielders and five defenders?

He can’t, no striker in the world could apart Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The same happened against last season at home against Swansea, Chelsea and Monaco, three games we didn’t win despite the substitution; personally, I can’t recall a game whose dynamics were changed by the introduction of Theo Walcott in replacement of Olivier Giroud.

Who has the better impact?

To my eyes, Theo Walcott is not an impact player to be thrown in when you can’t break the opposite team’s resistance in their own box: he needs spaces to exploit his pace and time his runs, there’s no point in asking him to win us the game when our opponents barely move from their own penalty box.

In my humble view, Olivier Giroud is a better option, if we want an impact striker on the bench; it doesn’t mean he’s not good enough to start games, he is just more likely to leave a mark on the game if called upon, compared to Theo Walcott.

Giroud off the bench to save game at Goodison last season

He can wrestle defenders for a loose ball; he can add presence in the box if we decide to throw long balls in and can free some space for his teammates, attracting defenders around him: is there a better definition of impact player? I don’t think so. Indeed I recall him coming on win the FA Cup Quarter Final v Everton in March 2014 and Wenger praising his impact as a sub

I don’t see any point in throwing Theo Walcott in and playing the same football, pretending he can do what Olivier Giroud does best: holding the ball, linking with others around the box and battling with centre-halves for the best position in the box.

Theo Walcott should start games and prove he can do a job at the Arsenal; he’s been rewarded with a new, very rich contract and he must be given the chance to show he can be our main man.

He has a completely different set of skills compared to Olivier Giroud but he could form an unbelievable trio with Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil, both excellent at picking any forward’s runs; he doesn’t have the physique to go into a fight with the likes of Terry, Skrtel, Mangala or Smalling but he has the pace and the intelligence to trouble them.

He is more mobile and more composed than Olivier Giroud, as well as more flexible and therefore able to swap positions with Alexis Sanchez, for instance, and give Arsène Wenger more solutions.


Changing the game plan? Not necessarily

Playing Theo Walcott up front could force Arsène Wenger to slightly change our game plan and the players themselves should adjust to their new teammate, however changes won’t be as big as the blatant differences between him and Olivier Giroud could suggest: with the Frenchman on the pitch, we know we have a way to get out of pressure by throwing a long ball towards him; that wouldn’t change with Theo Walcott upfront, we’d only need to aim BEYOND him and not TO him because he wouldn’t win any physical duel against any centre-half in the league; instead, he can easily overrun any defender and reach the ball first.

Another weak point of Theo Walcott is his link-up play: he’s not really good at exchanging passes in tight spaces and often concedes possession to defenders, however he’s excellent at moving between lines and we have tons of players who could pick his runs.

We don’t need to involve him in our passing game; we’d just need to keep an eye on his movements and slip the ball behind the defensive line; nine out of ten times, he will reach it the first.

Thought this classic Theo goal v Everton in pre-season was a sign of things to come

The lack of presence up front could easily be balanced by his movement off the ball, something we are in desperate need against teams parking the bus; Olivier is many things but he’s definitely not a mobile striker, which makes life a bit easier for defenders compared to Theo Walcott.

Not facing a static, although strong, main striker could result in more troubles for defenders, especially if the forward is quick and intelligent like Theo Walcott; our oldest-serving player can stretch defensive lines by roaming across the whole attacking front, creating spaces for himself to exploit or allowing time on the ball to our more creative players – something we should not overlook.

The combination we need to see

Also, players like Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere would thrive alongside a forward who likes to dictate passes with his runs and invite through-balls with his movement.

I would love to see Arsène Wenger giving Theo Walcott a good run of games as main striker, that would allow all of us to have a better idea of what he could really bring to the team; so far, we’ve never seen him starting up front in back to back games and it is then hard to judge the player.

Theo Walcott is far from being the finished product but only time on the pitch would allow him to address his faults and improve surely!

Give him a chance, Arsène.

Give us a chance to understand, while you are there.


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3 Responses to Walcott never will be an impact player against a compact defence but Giroud can be so….

  1. ray August 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    you are really spot on mate. what i dont understand about arsene is how he prepares our team against opponents. how he watches teams videos and analyse their weakness and strength… every time it seems other teams do alot to hurt us on our weakness… they have been doing that for years while for whatever reasons our coach has decided to not adopt our game preparation to hurt our opponents on their weaknesses. each week when we’re up against any team..we know the tactics they would adopt against us.. and thats to be well organised defencively…have strong..technical n mobile midfielders whose jobs is to stop us from playing the way we play…and have a sharp attack strategy to hurt us when we eventually make mistakes…
    it is important to play to the weakness of our opponents as well just as they do against us every week.

  2. McD August 27, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    You are right about Theo but I’m not convinced that Giroud can be a super sub. At least not one that will guarantee you a goal. He may cause trouble in the opposition box if we are chasing a goal but can we really say -hand on heart- that if an opportunity fell to the big man in the 89th minute that he would get a goal? Too many times we have seen him need a few chances before he finally takes one and if he’s only on for 20 minutes or so would we really fancy him to score? That’s my view anyway. In my opinion he’s not good enough to be our first choice striker but it’s not his fault he’s in that position

  3. AndreaR August 28, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Hello Ray, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    I believe that Arsène Wenger is one of those managers who focus on his own team preparation, which doesn’t mean he ignores opponents or doesn’t analyze videos, and whose priority is to make sure his players are ready.

    He believes in his football and follows his ideas, which sometimes clashes with other managers’ and make it look like he doesn’t want to change or adapt.
    Someone call it stubborness, others call it coherence – it doesn’t really matter.
    Remeber the away game at City, last year? We defended deep, we dug in, we fought and accepted that we couldn’t master possession at their place.
    This means Arsène did his homeworks and abandoned the idea to impose his own football, no matters what.

    Back to Walcott: I hope he starts getting minutes and I believe he will, otherwise he wouldn’t have gor the new 140k-per-week deal.
    Perhaps already at Newcaste…hopefully.

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