Analysis: 'Selfish' Theo Walcott held Arsenal to ransom on the pitch

Theo Walcott

Arsenal's Theo Walcott put in a performance to be embarrassed of at the weekend in the club's 2-0 loss to City.

There are statistics, and then there is context, and the combination of the pair is pretty damning for Theo Walcott when you consider his weekend's performance.

Arsenal needed him, badly, against Manchester City, and he was found wanting. Yet it wasn't his performance, but his attitude.

Quickly, the statistics - Walcott touched the ball 18 times against City. In 90 minutes. 

By comparison Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had 13 touches in 12 minutes, and Olivier Giroud when he came on had 21 touches in 33 minutes - More than Walcott in just over a third of the time.

At the other end of the pitch, City's forwards, albeit aided by a more blessed midfield in terms of control of the game, were far more involved, Dzeko 47 touches and Tevez with 53.

What the above shows is just how stringently Walcott stuck to his centre-forward role. Even when Giroud came on, Walcott did not budge from the centre, despite barely getting a kick.

Perhaps he thought Giroud would provide him with flick-ons, and of course Wenger will have issued instructions, but this should have been changed up quickly when it was clear the plan was not working.

Walcott has been accused of holding Arsenal to ransom off the pitch in recent weeks over his ongoing contract situation, with Wenger relenting to his demand to play up front.

It was clear on Sunday that Walcott was playing for himself and not for the team.  

Arsenal needed him to drop deep, go wide, and get possession of the ball and help Arsenal build attacks. Unlike Giroud, he has the ability to do this with great effect, as he has repeatedly proved, yet he chose to stay isolated up front - Because he wanted to play striker.

Some Arsenal fans will excuse his performance given some positive showings in recent weeks and the circumstances of having 10 men, but being a man down was exactly why Arsenal needed Walcott to drop deep and get involved, especially once Giroud came on for him to play off.

The fact he touched the ball just five more times than Oxlade-Chamberlain in near than 80 minutes more illustrated his lack of involvement, and lack of willingness to play for the team, when he needed to stop playing as a striker and get more involved.

Walcott wants a big contract at Arsenal, and he will probably end up getting it if it is what he really wants. But he didn't do himself any favours against City.

He has held the Gunners' transfer window to ransom by being a big distraction over the past month, and Arsenal can't afford it to affect the team on the pitch. It smacked of an 'I'm playing up front, and I'm not moving' attitude.

As it is he is essentially conducting a very public trial as a striker, he probably feels it, but he needs to remember it is about the team and not about Theo Walcott; Sunday was a selfish show from him and it isn't one he nor the club's fans will want to see repeated.

Was Walcott too selfish on Sunday? Did he forget to play for the team or are we being too harsh?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch