It hasn’t quite been the season Theo Walcott had anticipated. After a series of frustrating campaigns at the Emirates, the winger had finally flourished as a Fantasy force last term, with eight goals, 11 assists and 19 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bonus points earning him an overall haul of 169 points. Walcott’s link-up play with Robin Van Persie was a crucial aspect of the Gunners’ forward forays in 2011/12, but the Dutchman decided to “listen to the little boy inside” in the summer and promptly upped and left for Old Trafford:
A resultant restructuring of Arsenal’s attacking options has seen both Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey selected ahead of Walcott on the right flank, with the former Southampton man afforded a single league start, all the way back in Gameweek 1. Brief cameos off the bench have hinted at his potential, though; finding the net against Norwich and West Ham, Walcott’s two strikes are the equal of Lukas Podolski, despite featuring in just 249 minutes to the German’s 723, while Arsene Wenger’s main frontman, Olivier Giroud, has notched once in 628 minutes.
Handed a rare starting berth in the midweek Champions League game at Schalke, Walcott opened the scoring in the 2-2 draw and opined post-match that he’s more than deserving of a regular role right now. Looking at the stats so far, it’s hard to argue – in all competitions for the Gunners this season, Walcott has produced eight goals and four assists over 13 appearances; bearing in mind Gervinho and Santi Cazorla, with three goals apiece, are Arsenal’s top league scorers after 10 matches, it’s difficult to understand just why Wenger has been reluctant to utilise Walcott more freely.
With Gervinho ruled out due to an ankle problem and Ramsey a likely deputy for the suspended Jack Wilshere at home to Fulham this weekend, the stage looks set for Walcott to make a statement of intent. Coming in at 8.7 in FPL and 7.5 in the Sky Sports game, he offers an intriguing alternative to Cazorla and Gervinho in the Gunners midfield, providing he can reclaim his regular role once again. The upcoming schedule affords Arsenal plenty optimism – four home games in the next six (FUL, TOT, SWA, WBA), in addition to a trip to Villa, gives Wenger’s side plenty opportunity to improve upon their current seventh position. If the Gunners boss finally relents and allows Walcott his preferred central role, the bandwagon could well be in overdrive.