Looking back at Arsenal’s performance this season, one wonders if they could have finished better if not for the injury setbacks that the team was faced with. Arsene Wenger and Ramsey have both stated that injuries cost them dearly in the title race. Theo Walcott’s injury was one of the most felt in the team because it is the injury that had the longest recovery period for a key player.
Theo Walcott was previously injured this season in late August for 2 months before he got a long term injury during the FA Cup fixture against Tottenham on 4th January. In short, Walcott missed most of this season, appearing only 13 times in the Premier League. Despite this short period of play in the league, Walcott still managed to score 5 goals and make 4 assists. Walcott clearly made some impact before he got side-lined by the long-term injury.
Judging by Walcott’s performance in the previous season (2012/13), one can argue that he could have tallied in more goals and assists this season had he not been injured. Theo Walcott scored a total of 21 goals last season with 14 of them being in the EPL. Apart from his goals, Walcott contributes a lot to Arsenal’s gameplay. His pace gives us an added edge on the counterattack and also draws in a lot of free kicks because defenders have it hard timing tackles in accordance to his speed. In fact, with Giroud not being a very mobile striker, Walcott was perfect for assisting on the right wing since he could beat defenders with his speed and pass quick crosses into the box.
Another aspect of Walcott’s gameplay that Arsenal missed was the “super sub” element. Just like Oxlade-Chamberlain, bringing in Walcott in the second half creates huge problems for an opposition’s defence, especially if the full-backs are tired. Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain inject a burst of speed into any game they are subbed into and it is the worst thing for a full-back to have these quick forwards running at them when all their strength has been spent running at the flanks in the first 60 minutes of a match.
Furthermore, Walcott’s speed could have been very useful against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Arsenal’s results Bayern in both the home and away matches in the round of 16 stemmed from the fact the Germans had a better attack and the Gunners couldn’t set up effective counterattacks from their defensive position. Walcott could have given Arsenal more counterattacking options. To be fair, one cannot claim in hindsight that Walcott would have made the Gunners to win against a better Bayern Munich but it is clear that he would have had an impact.
On a more positive note, Theo Walcott is set to make a recovery sometime in the early part of next season. It is sad that he will miss the world cup in Brazil and it is even made worse when one remembers that he was unfairly omitted from the earlier World Cup in 2010 by Fabio Cappello, who was the England National team coach then. Hopefully, Walcott will have a better experience next season.