Lee Dixon’s doubts over Arsenal's Theo Walcott proven right in Olympiakos defeat

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott struggled up front on his own.

Popular Arsenal icon Lee Dixon predicted forward Theo Walcott to struggle against Olympiakos and was proven right as the England international did little to prove his worth as a centre-forward.

Walcott has spoken of his desire to play through the middle, yet on more occasions than not he has been left isolated up top and proven rather ineffective in general play when given his chance.

In a must win game, the Gunners lacked rhythm in the final third and were made to pay as they were downed 3-2 to leave their hopes of Champions League progression hanging by a thread.

In Olivier Giroud’s absence [the striker was suspended following his dismissal in Zagreb], Walcott was entrusted as the lone striker and did manage to get on the scoresheet in the first-half.

  GoalsShotsKey PassesTake-onsTouchesAccurate PassesBall RecoveriesMins Played
Theo Walcott 1 4 1 1 21 8 0 90

However, as per the table provided by Opta Stats, the former Southampton man’s equaliser doesn’t hide the fact that he was involved far too infrequently in terms of general build up play.

Writing for Breathe Sport before kick-off, Dixon predicted: “Walcott is on form with 12 goals in 13 PL starts, but he’ll always find it difficult at home against a deep defence such as Olympiacos. It's a real shame that Giroud is suspended."

Walcott’s main attributes such as his turn of pace, directness, solid first touch and fine finishing is only really valuable when hitting teams on the break and being afforded plenty of space.

In wide areas, the 26-year-old can find the space to hurt teams but through the middle he is all too often crowded out, illustrating his main weaknesses as he struggles with general link-up play.

Against Olympiakos, Walcott managed just 21 touches and eight accurate passes – the sort of statistics which would leave fellow striker Olivier Giroud squarming in horror.

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