You’ve heard of the phrase: ‘growing into the role’, haven’t you? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened to Theo Walcott who, as I’ve said for as many years as people would care to listen, is a goal predator.
I was so impressed by Theo’s instincts in front of goal that I was even moved to call him a ‘fox in the box’ after yesterday’s performance against Swansea. Back in the day, Thierry Henry made it clear that Arsenal needed to sign that sort of player. It didn’t happen. The Gunners signed Francis Jeffers, who never came close to living up to that title or his hefty price tag, for that matter. The wait continued…until now perhaps.
Unlike Jeffers, Theo has had time to iron out any problems with his game and, although I’m still not saying he’s the perfect player (that is, he’s unlikely to be the next Henry despite wearing the number 14), I can see him going from strength and grabbing the required amount of goals for Arsenal to lift the title.
In fact, this is the first year since ‘the Invicibles’ that I’ve gone public in saying Arsenal could win the league. It’s something about the Gunners’ attack that defences cannot pin down. Even watching games, I don’t know where Theo and Ozil are going to pop up, so how would defenders know. Then there’s Alexis dragging so many defenders out of position so that Theo and Ozil can run into the gaps. That’s a frightening prospect for any defence.
Arsenal’s only weakness seems to be in the left back position as even the Twiterrati have noticed that Monreal is having a tough time there of late. I’ve always rated the Spaniard, but it’s obvious that opposition managers are overloading his side of the field to expose a perceived weakness. On the other side, Bellerin pins back opposition wingers, so most goals conceded come from Monreal’s side. Once again, Swansea’s two goals came from that side, although Monreal was in no way culpable for the first, which was the fault of Xhaka (who later compounded his error but unluckily getting himself sent off).
Like a lot of fans, I’m wondering if it’s time to put Gibbs back in the team as a starter to replace the under-par Monreal. It’s a difficult decision for the manager because you have to ask if it’s ever a good decision to change a winning team. In this case, I would do make the changes, providing Gibbs is performing well in training.
Additionally, now that Xhaka is going to be suspended, Wenger has no choice but to change the starting line-up. Therefore, it’s an ideal opportunity to bring Gibbs back and bench the versatile Monreal for a while.
Arsenal have got another home game next in the league so, by rights, they ought to be able to push onwards and upwards. The Gunners must not underestimate Middlesbrough though if they want to secure three points.