Theo Walcott has disappeared this season and hasn’t really featured since returning from injury. He still retains his place in the England squad despite his lack of game time, and could feature over the international break. However, his place as a starter is far from certain, which will be a worry for the Arsenal player as he was once considered a permanent fixture for both club and country. Injuries have played a huge part in his decreasing role, but inconsistency has also been an issue as he has never been able to guarantee a constant supply of goals. It might be that Walcott’s time at Arsenal is over and he may need to seek a move in the summer.
This season, the Englishman has only featured 8 times in the league for Arsenal, with five of those appearances coming from the bench. He has scored twice this season which isn’t bad considering his limited game time. Meanwhile last season, he once again failed to play regular football with injuries tarnishing his campaign. Walcott played 13 league matches, in which he scored five goals and got four assists. The England international can be a real threat in the final third as these figures show, but he is never fit often enough to become a top class player.
Arsenal have been a club who have always had problems with injuries and this may show an ignorance in their coaching methods as their players appear overworked at times and Walcott’s problems may be due to this. This season, Arsene Wenger has appeared to be treating Walcott with extreme care, which isn’t a bad thing considering how many injuries he has suffered in recent seasons. However, the time must come when the Frenchman gives Walcott a run in the first team to show what he can contribute to Arsenal. The Gunners have a variety of attacking players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, therefore it will be a tough ask for Walcott to get back into the side. On the other hand, Walcott offers something unique with his blistering pace and ability to time runs in behind defenders to get through on goal. He could complement Sanchez and Olivier Giroud well.
At the age of 26, the winger must see the next two or three years as career-defining for him, as he has the opportunity to become a quality player. If his injuries persist, he will always be remembered as a player who never fulfilled his undoubted potential. This will be a huge shame, as Walcott has had many good moments in his career, and he just needs to gain consistency and begin to influence games on a more regular basis.
There will be a number of teams interested in Walcott as he has genuine quality and as a homegrown player, he becomes more attractive, especially to sides in European competitions. Liverpool have been regularly linked to Walcott, and he could form a devastating partnership with Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling if he does move to Anfield. The appeal will certainly be there for Brendan Rodgers as it will give Liverpool lots of pace up front for the counter attack, while the move will also be a positive one for England. However, other clubs such as Manchester City, Everton and Tottenham may also look the the Englishman to provide more depth to their attacks.
The final two months of the season will be important for Walcott’s future, because if he doesn’t get enough time on the pitch, he may seek a move in the summer, especially as his contract situation is precarious at Arsenal. He has been at Arsenal for nearly a decade and a change in surroundings could revive Walcott’s career and help with his injuries as the Arsenal coaching staff have failed to manage his body well enough.