Did Arsene Wenger play Walcott up top just to get his new deal signed?
On January 18th 2013 Theo Walcott finally put an end to what had been the contract saga of the season by putting pen to paper on a new contract at The Emirates Stadium.
The new £100k-a-week deal came after months of negotiating and re-negotiating between club and player and at one point it even seemed likely he would be on his way at the end of the season; on a free transfer.
Arsenal did well to stick to their guns, no matter how big a gamble that was, and hold on to the player especially as he had been in good form for the club coming up to the new offer. But did they trick him slightly?
While money was obviously a contributing factor to the new deal Walcott insisted it was not just about the cash. The former Southampton player was adamant that he also wanted to play up front for the club and that his positional future would play a huge role in his final decision.
In the weeks leading up to the signing of the new deal that is exactly what Wenger did; he played Theo through the middle and with good affect too.
It seemed Walcott’s mini-ultimatum had worked and that Arsenal were now willing to give him a chance as a striker rather than on the wing.
Or were they simply keeping him happy to sign the deal?
Since signing the contract Walcott has played through the middle just once as Wenger tried to utilise his pace against Daniel Van Buyten and Dante of Bayern Munich; it backfired horribly.
Other than that occasion, since putting pen-to-paper, Olivier Giroud has been the striker with Walcott providing from out-wide.
Recently Walcott has received some criticism for his performances post contract signing and there are two reasons for this.
A: He is unhappy at being played out-wide.
B: He is not really going through a bad-patch at all.
He has continued to notch a considerable amount of assists since signing the new deal and that seems to be what Wenger wants; Walcott out wide using his pace to get beyond the defence.
Now they have him tied down for another three-and-a-half-years and other than whine and sulk there is nothing Walcott can do about where he plays on the pitch.
It looks like Walcott got schooled by Monsieur Wenger; proving that two can play that game.
Do you think Wenger played him up-front just to get the contract signed?
image: © wonker