If Arsene Wenger was a 23-year-old England international who has represented his country at just about every level with 51 goals and 41 helpers to his credit, and knows that several other Premier League teams are interested in him, he’d want to be playing regular first-team football. The Arsenal manager had better keep this in mind if he wants to re-sign Theo Walcott, who is described in detail above.
For some reason, Wenger isn’t starting Walcott for the Gunners even though he’s one of their most effective players when he finally gets on the pitch. Walcott proved this again on Sat. Oct. 6 when he came on as a substitute and scored the game winner against West Ham and then set up the insurance marker in a 3-1 away win.
Sooner or later this kid is going to get fed up with sitting on the bench and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he bolts the team just like Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Robin van Persie have done over the past couple of years. If Wenger’s hoping to re-sign Walcott to a contract extension he’s not really giving the player much incentive to stay. Walcott knows he can play regular first-team football elsewhere and probably make more money while doing so too.
His contract expires at the end of the current Premier League season and he’s free to talk with other teams once the next transfer window open in January. In addition, Walcott wants to try his hand in a striker’s role and he could very well get his wish if he moved to another club. Nobody really knows if Wenger’s playing head games with Walcott and punishing him by relegating him to the bench because he won’t sign a new contract, but he’s definitely playing with fire and whatever he’s trying to prove it could backfire on the Arsenal manager.
There are always rumours swirling around that Walcott wants to stay at the Emirates, but if you put yourself in his shoes you’ll realize there’s a good chance he might decide to eventually skip town. Walcott has said that he’s playing a waiting game right now and is hoping to get into the starting 11. If he’s not there soon nobody could really blame him for wanting to leave. He’s got a lot of raw skill, speed, and potential and he’s never going to realize it by sitting on Wenger’s bench.
The speedster started the season opener at home against Sunderland in a 0-0 draw and was substituted in the 76th minute. He played well enough and had four shots at goal. The next game, another 0-0 draw against Stoke this time, saw him on the bench until entering the game in the 71st minute. He didn’t make the pitch at all in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. He came on in the 74th minute against Southampton and scored in a 6-1 win at home.
Wenger put him on with just a minute to go in Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League win in Montpellier and in the 71st minute of the 1-1 draw against Man City. His next start came in the 6-1 League Cup win over Coventry and he added a pair of goals. That wasn’t enough to start in the 2-1 home loss to Chelsea though and Walcott made an appearance in the 66th minute followed by a 70th minute entrance in the 3-1 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League and coming on in the 60th minute against West Ham.
He’s played a total of 295 minutes so far this season in all competitions. That’s an average of 29.5 minutes in the Gunners’ 10 games and he's started just two of them. It equates to just over three and a quarter 90-minute games and Walcott has four goals and an assist to show for it. He’s clearly producing when he’s called upon and going by the numbers is scoring at better than a goal-a-game pace. However, we all know that statistics can be twisted around to suit any argument.
But still, if he doesn’t find himself in Arsenal’s starting 11 again sometime soon, don’t be surprised if Walcott isn’t with the team when the 2013/14 season kicks off. If he does leave, it would be understandable why.