ONE stat to explain why this Arsenal star must start against Chelsea

Theo Walcott hit a brace for Arsenal in last weekend’s resounding defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad, but furthermore always has eyes for Chelsea.

The Englishman’s double popped up as a positive gleaned from what was otherwise an horrific afternoon for the Gunners, coming in his first start since undergoing surgery to resolve an abdominal issue in late September.

Prior to going the distance against City, the 24-year-old had compiled just 74 total minutes of action since reentering the fold on November 23, failing to ripple the net but serving up a pair of assists.

Walcott looks good value to make Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven once more against Chelsea on Monday, seeing as his fitness has returned to required levels at last and noting the impact he made in the heavy defeat to Manuel Pellegrini’s charges.

Further, Jack Wilshere is suspended for the clash after facing sanctions for making an obscene gesture during the encounter in Manchester, pushing his countryman even farther forward in the queue.

But another reason burns in the background for the England international to be deployed from the off opposite the Blues – they’re his favourite targets.

That is, alongside Arsenal’s North London rivals in Tottenham Hotspur. Walcott has struck five goals against both sides across all competitions in his professional career to make them his preferred victims, a pair of brilliant choices really.

The Gunners are without a victory in three straight in a stretch covering both domestic and Champions League fixtures, having witnessed their lead atop the Premier League shrink to two points in the process.

Anything less than a win against Chelsea would leave the Emirates outfit in grave danger of relinquishing first place, with a defeat to their Stamford Bridge rivals guaranteeing such an unwanted consequence.

Walcott has a knack for doing the business against West Londoners, scoring in three of the last five Premier League meetings between them, and could do his side a great service with another quality performance on Monday.

The statistics certainly back his bid for another starting berth and with last week’s confidence-boosting brace under his belt as well, he could be primed to get Arsenal back on track after their struggles of late.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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