Arsene Wenger was given a big problem (approximately 6ft 5in) in his Arsenal team selection when Olivier Giroud was sent off against Fulham and given a three match ban. The manager had a settled system at the front with the big Frenchman as a target man and there is nobody else at the club who offers the same.
As we know, Wenger opted for Lukas Podolski as the centre forward and seems determined to stick with his decision. He has spoken about his belief that Podolski can do a good job in the middle because of his finishing ability and suggested that he does not need to work so hard as on the left flank.
Theo may have thought he deserved a chance in the middle and the fact that he is the club’s top scorer suggest he has a point, but he has scored in both of the games with Podolski in the middle, so Wenger can say he got it right I suppose. Wenger has also praised the new found maturity and finishing of Walcott, offering the England international encouragement in his pursuit of the central position.
“You certainly remember him when he arrived,” said Wenger. “In front of goal, the ball could go anywhere. Now you see, every time he hits the target. He forces the keeper into a save. That’s why his numbers are so much better.
“I use him on the flank because I try to put a player in the middle who can score goals and having another one on the flank who can score goals gives you a little bit of security. We finished with him in the middle.”
So Wenger is hedging his bets. It seems as if Podolski is not full fit, so he will not be able to track back as he should on the left flank, but he can link play and hopefully finish if he gets a sniff, while Theo can use his energy and pace to bomb up and down the right and still grab a goal.
I think, also, that Wenger is using a bit of philosophy on Walcott, trying to get him to reproduce the form of earlier in the season before he signed his new deal, when he was doing everything to show he could play as a striker.