Arsene Wenger says that Theo Walcott is working hard to win his place back in the Arsenal side, but also that the 27 year old has not developed as well as expected in the central striking role.
While there have been some good performances when deployed centrally, they’re the exception rather than the rule, and when he’s played out wide he hasn’t really done as well as a player of his experience should.
For a long time, Walcott declared his desire to play as a centre-forward, saying, “I hope I’ll move inside. It just depends on the players the boss brings in.
“I was signed as a striker, I want to play up front. I’ve done my trade out on the wing. A lot of people forget I’m not a winger.
“I see myself as a striker.”
Having been given that chance by the manager, he had a fantastic game against Man Utd at the Emirates and played well at Leicester away but that was about it.
And in recent weeks he even backtracked to say he’d be happy to play on the right.
Speaking ahead of the West Ham game, the Arsenal manager has backed the player he signed at 16 from Southampton, but says he needs to make his mind up.
“The problem with Theo is he wants to play on the right and through the middle,” said Wenger.
“You have to fix yourself somewhere. When he does go through the middle he thinks maybe it’s better for me on the right.”
“It’s true that I fixed him more through the middle, because of the quality of his runs and the intelligence of his runs.
“And he has improved his finishing a lot, so he can be a player through the middle. On the flanks today you have to work very hard defensively.”
Asked if he had developed well enough as a centre-forward, Wenger said, “”Not as well as you could have expected. He had good periods in the season. I think recently he has gone through a much more difficult period. But he will come back.
“He works very hard, he puts the effort in in training. At the moment, for him and Giroud it’s a bit more difficult, but that’s part of the competition.
“He understands that as well, and he fights very hard. But in our job things can change quickly from one week to the next.”