Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger explained at his press conference ahead of the FA Cup final that he played Theo Walcott as a striker against West Brom because that’s where he sees his long term position.
Walcott was superb on the final day of Arsenal’s league season, hitting a hat-trick in a 4-1 to give everyone a reminder of why he’s such an important part of the club’s attack.
Wenger now faces a difficult choice over whether to start Walcott against Aston Villa this weekend through the middle of the attack or whether to bring Olivier Giroud back into the team. Either way, he’s been clear over how he plans to use Walcott if he stays at the club long term.
“He's shown he is back in good form. I played him up front because I believe he can do it. He proved he can do it and in the future Walcott will be a central striker,” said Wenger.
The comments from Wenger have been well timed with the Daily Mirror suggesting that the next round of talks over a new deal for Walcott will take place next week.
He’s likely to be seeking assurances from the club over the amount of playing time he’s likely to receive and the position he’ll be playing as well as an improved offer with regards to terms.
There would be logic in Walcott starting against Aston Villa this weekend because he has that electric pace, which can make the difference against a team that wants to sit back and take a great deal of pressure.
Whether Arsenal look to control the ball through the middle or whether they counter attack, Walcott is someone who could turn out to be the difference between the two teams.
In terms of earning a start, he couldn’t have done much more.