Theo Walcott Is The Key To Our Title Challenge

Well I don’t think many Arsenal supporters saw that coming.

Arsenal were sensational. If we’re going to slate them for being awful when we get a poor result, we have to praise them when they get an excellent win – and that’s exactly how it was yesterday against Manchester United.

The league leaders were blown away and we fully deserved it. The team which were top of the Premier League looked completely lost as we attacked time and time again – if you wanted to be picky you could argue that Arsenal should have scored 5 or 6 goals at least.

Alexis Sanchez was, well, Alexis Sanchez. There are no more superlatives to describe the guy – he is simply outstanding and we are blessed to have him in an Arsenal shirt. He makes the extraordinary look simple and he is truly a world class player.

Mesut Özil looked excellent as well, although he had chances to score a second goal in the 90 minutes. Özil needs to put in a top class performance week in, week out, if he wants to help Arsenal win the biggest trophies. Is this his season? Only time will tell.

But the most encouraging performance for me was from Theo Walcott.

The main striker role is the position we were having the most problems with as it was clear that Olivier Giroud is good to an extent, but doesn’t perform in the biggest games and fails to make the difference when we really need him. The Monaco home game last season was a match with summed up his talent – tries hard but doesn’t have the quality to score enough goals or get us to win the big games.

But with Theo, the signs are promising.

In the last 10 seasons this is the first where Theo has been given a starting berth as Arsenal’s main man. We only have one main striker and he has been given the chance by Arsene to prove he can make it there – and at the moment, he is doing excellently.

Walcott has been criticised for not having a football brain but this season he has shown he has the ability to adapt. Already in this campaign, his hold up and link play has improved dramatically, and his football intelligence has improved ten fold.

He brings others into play, can find a decisive pass and although he didn’t score yesterday, still has an eye for goal. If you want to be super critical you could say his finishing could improve, but don’t forget he is still relatively new to the role.

Like against Leicester last week, he was excellent again against Manchester United. His link up play was good and he made two assists – one for Özil and one for Sanchez. His movement off the ball has improved a lot and his overall game is much much better than before.

He obviously has the blistering pace and the way Walcott, Sanchez and Özil were passing the ball between themselves was mesmerising at times yesterday. And if they are that impressive in early October how are they going to be once they get used to each other in a few months time?

There has to be no doubt whatsoever that Theo is Arsenal’s main man this season – and the bottom line is our title challenge this season relies on his performances.

We all know that Olivier Giroud is not good enough to lead Arsenal to a title, but with his improving performances and adaptation to the role, Theo Walcott is.

Arsenal Have No One Else To Blame But Themselves For Chelsea Defeat

We all know what Chelsea and Diego Costa are all about – in fact we all know what Jose Mourinho is about as well.

Before the game, I predicted that Chelsea would beat Arsenal. We’ve been lame so far this season, especially upfront, and so it proved.

We have no leaders in the team (no change there) and even though this was a Chelsea side in apparent crisis, I had no confidence going into the game at all.

Jose Mourinho is many things, including a top class arsehole, but he has Arsene Wenger’s number and knows exactly how to get to him. From making inappropriate comments in the media which Arsene Wenger was very prickly about in his pre-match press conference, to purposely waiting outside the tunnel to shake Arsene’s hand before the match – Arsenal had lost well before a ball was kicked.

Arsene finds it hard to hide is hatred for Jose Mourinho and in a sport where the top managers excel in mind games, Arsene Wenger falls short. Before going into the match, Arsenal’s mental strength (as it were) was shot.

Arsene Wenger could have been defiant and given Jose Mourinho some snide comments back, but instead by “refusing to rise to the bait” we looked weak and timid. Would Sir Alex Ferguson have responded in such a manner? Of course not, he would have shown some fight.

And so to the game itself. The stupid thing is none of what we saw was unpredictable was it? Chelsea are like a wounded animal, struggling in the Premier League, so it was blatantly obvious they would resort to dirty tactics to get a result.

Jose Mourinho is a winner who does what it takes. Arsene Wenger always wants to win beautifully and sometimes we need to fight and get those 3 points. And by fight, I mean dig in and not respond like Gabriel did.

Yes, Diego Costa is a horrible excuse for a human being and yes, he is a cheating arsehole, but we know what he’s like. We also know Mike Dean is the worst referee when it comes to Arsenal games (remember his record of awarding 11 penalties in 11 games at Old Trafford leading into the 50th game of our Invincibles run?) and he looks for absolutely any excuse to send off an Arsenal player or give unjust penalties.

We should have concentrated on football and let the authorities sort out the histrionics afterwards. The Arsenal player should know that the most important thing is the team and the result so to get sent off is ridiculous.

We have no leaders in the side to take control and tell the players what to do – no Tony Adams figure who knows what’s best for the team on the pitch and understands how the game works. Yes, Costa treads an extremely thin line and he will get his just desserts soon enough – but Gabriel is now missing for 3 games when we badly need central defenders.

Another problem is that we don’t believe. We had a decent opening 15 minutes but never looked dangerous at all.

Seriously, we might as well not turn up to a match against Chelsea because we’ll never get a result against them as long as Arsene Wenger is in charge.

How Arsenal Can Win The League – Without Giroud Or Walcott!

I think the vast majority of Arsenal fans (myself included) were pretty gutted that Arsene didn’t sign a new striker during the transfer window. With Danny Welbeck now out for 4/5 months, the need for another forward was even more desperate.

After last season, hopes were high that Arsenal could mount a real title challenge this time out. The key areas Arsenal needed to strengthen were in goal, defensive midfield and up front. Arsenal promptly signed Petr Cech (which was a massive coup) and found their defensive midfielder in young Francis Coquelin, who has proved to be a fantastic option. So really the only place we needed to improve was in attack.

We have a wealth of attacking and creative midfielders, and in defence we are pretty solid. We have Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel and Chambers fighting for the central defender positions and have two decent fullbacks on each side; Gibbs and Monreal on the left and Bellerin and Debuchy on the right.

So if we are so close to creating a genuine title challenging team, then why didn’t we get a striker? Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud are pretty much have the perfect attributes to create a world class striker – it’s just a pity that we can’t merge them both together and create a mutated “super striker”. I don’t buy for a second that there are no quality strikers available – especially with Arsenal’s comprehensive scouting network – that managed to find some really fantastic players over the years.

But we’re going over old ground now. We don’t have the world class striker we all crave so we’re stuck with what we’ve got so to speak. So what is the solution?

As we’ve seen already this season (and over previous seasons to be fair) it is clear that Olivier Giroud is not the solution. He offers something different but is just not clinical enough. Arsenal create so many chances that a real top quality forward would be putting away at least 30 ever season – and that would just be in the Premier League. You should be aiming to get at least a goal a game, if you play up front for Arsenal.

And what about Theo Walcott? The Stoke City game summed him up. He’s got electric pace but his finishing is not good enough. If you give me the option of playing Theo or Giroud as the lone striker then I would always pick Theo. That’s because our most expensive and talented footballer, Mesut Özil, needs an outlet to play his probing through balls – and Giroud is not ideal for that at all. At least Theo can run on beyond the opposition back line – like for his goal on Saturday.

I very rarely agree with anything Alan Shearer has to say, but he was spot on at the weekend when he said that Theo Walcott was “too nice”. He is and his finishing shows this – he should be smashing shots and firing bullets into the net like Alexis Sanchez does. But too many times on Saturday he was firing blanks as his limp shots were easily saved. He took his goal really well, but could have scored at least 3 or 4 goals that day.

So what’s the solution?

Olivier Giroud is not the man to count on and neither is Theo. And if Arsene isn’t going to change his system to accommodate both of them (i.e. play two up front) then this is how we should line up:

We should line up without a striker.

Spain managed to win a major tournament without a striker in 2012 (playing Fabregas as the “striker”) and other team such as the Dutch team of 1974 operated without a traditional “centre forward”.

So why couldn’t we do it?

I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work, and the advantages would be that:

  • We’d be less predictable and become a more difficult team to face.
  • We wouldn’t create chances for a striker that needed 15 opportunities to score.
  • We have players who are intelligent enough for it to work effectively.
  • Ramsey, Özil, Cazorla, Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all clever enough and have the ability to interchange and play in any of the attacking positions at any one time.
  • All 5 of those “attacking players” – with the possible exception of Özil – are all excellent finishers.

The reason why we have a striker in the team is because he is supposed to score goals (seems logical enough doesn’t it?). So if we don’t have a player who is good enough, but we have a bounty of attacking talent then why not play to our strengths? Our passing and movement is the best in the league and with 5 players of the calibre of Ramsey, Özil, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sachez running riot then we would be formidable. The opposition would have no idea what to do and that would create even more space for our intelligent attackers.

But will Arsene Wenger do it? I can confidently say it wouldn’t have even crossed his mind.

Why This Transfer Window Was Extremely Frustrating For Arsenal Fans

The transfer window slammed shut at 6pm today and I, like many Arsenal fans I imagine, were hoping for a miracle – hoping that Arsene Wenger could pull off a transfer deadline day deal which would improve our squad.

Unfortunately that never happened.

Arsene have stuttered badly this season, picking up 7 points from their opening 4 games. Manchester City are on fire, taking 12 points from 12 which leaves us 5 points off the pace already. Chelsea are doing even worse at present, which doesn’t lessen the poor start we’ve managed to make.

The areas we need to improve are relatively obvious. I say relatively because the vast majority of Arsenal supporters think that to be genuine title contenders, we needed to add a top goalkeeper, top central defender, top defensive midfielder and top centre forward.

For me though, all we needed to add to be real Premier League challengers (from the squad of last season) was to add a top goalkeeper and a top striker. We signed Petr Cech so to miss out on a real finisher is really frustrating.

Honestly, that’s all I think we need to be real contenders. Because hand on heart, Olivier Giroud is never going to be the man to fire us to the title – you can quote me on that.

The excuse that there are no top strikers available is absolutely ludicrous, and Arsene Wenger’s argument that none can be bought is farcical. Olivier Giroud is a limited striker who does a certain job but isn’t a top class finisher. There are top strikers all over the world, playing in leagues all over Europe – so don’t even pretend for a second a club like Arsenal couldn’t lure a decent striker for around £25 million, because if you believe Arsene Wenger then you are delusional.

The next question you’re going to ask me is “well, who could we have bought then?”. My answer to that is I’m not a well paid football scout employed by Arsenal Football Club – Arsene Wenger has a hell of a lot more information and data on players around Europe (and the world) and can make a much better judgement on strikers that I can.

But off the top of my head, how about Charlie Austin or Javier Hernandez? Would have cost £15 million or less and they have a proven goalscoring record. And they are players (unlike Giroud) who you would be confident in scoring a chance when presented to them, instead of needing 6 opportunities to score.

So far this season we’ve “scored” 3 goals in 4 games, and two of those were own goals. That means Arsenal have scored 1 goal in 4 games, which is very poor considering the number of chances we create.

Arsenal desperately needed a striker and instead of getting one, Arsene Wenger went on his jollies in Paris.

And how frustrating is that?

I Told You All That Petr Cech Was Well Past It 8 Weeks Ago!

Arsene Wenger has been lauded as a genius for bringing in Petr Cech. Finally, Arsenal had a world class goalkeeper since the days of David Season (and Jens Lehmann of the Invincibles season). The era of Almunia, Fabianski and Szczesny making mistakes which would cost us valuable points was over.

This was a new dawn, a new chapter in Arsenal’s history.

But then Petr Cech made his debut for Arsenal and it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t the messiah, the man to come and save us.

He was actually an ageing goalkeeper who was past it and nowhere near being at the world class standard we all thought he was.

I wrote way back in June that Chelsea only sold Petr Cech because he was past it, and yet again I have been proved right when all others thought otherwise.

I hate being right all the time.

Look, everyone makes mistakes. But yesterday was an utter shambles, a disgrace and if you’re not disgusted then you just have to laugh. After debating whether Szczesny or Ospina were the better option we brought in Cech and suddenly the problem was solved and those two goalkeepers were regarded as squad players.

The fact is Arsenal are now in a worse position than they were before they signed Cech! Szczesny has moved to Italy and is on loan at AS Roma for the 2015/2016 season. Ospina is still at the club and after his performances last season you would like to see him back in the team – while unspectacular, at least he didn’t make two glaring mistakes in a single game.

The performance from Petr Cech has been played down as simply a bad day at the office. But the mistakes aren’t just mistakes. The first mistake from Cech was simple decision making. There was no way in hell he was going to win that aerial battle and he was in no mans land.

The second was amateurish and you can cover it up however you like, it was a howler of epic proportions. A nothing shot managed to go in at the near post from 20 yards out. It wasn’t struck particularly well or had so much power that Cech didn’t have a chance to react – it was a poor shot that should have been saved.

Petr Cech is a goalkeeper lacking in confidence after being on Chelsea’s bench last season and I’ve already mentioned that Jose Mourinho wouldn’t let him leave unless he thought he was past it. Yes, publicly Mourinho is always going to “oppose” his departure – he’s hardly going to give him his blessing is he? Mourinho has played the media to his tune and all the watching crowd (Arsenal fans in particular) have lapped it all up.

If Petr Cech was that good, then they wouldn’t have brought in Thibaut Courtois last season. If Petr Cech was that good they would have kept him at Chelsea (remember, no-one leaves Chelsea unless they want them to).

Is it completely outrageous to think that Arsenal have been duped? Petr Cech wants more regular football and Chelsea want a direct rival to “weaken” so what’s the ideal solution? Jose Mourinho is many things but he’s not stupid – he’s seen Petr Cech in training God knows how many times and let’s for a moment consider that he believes Cech is past it.

Selling him to club like Arsenal would be perfect – Cech gets a big new contract and is financially secure for the next 3/4 seasons, Chelsea get £11 million for a goalkeeper they consider surplus to requirements and a direct rival is weakened in a position they have never really looked strong in.

Only time will tell but before the season started the “experts” said Petr Cech was worth an extra 10/15 points to Arsenal. Well I’m not sure how true that is going to turn out to be as he’s already cost us 3 points already.