Wenger ad­mits Wal­cott frus­tra­tion

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Arsene Wenger has ac­knowl­edged that Theo Wal­cott

(pictured) hasn’t de­vel­oped “as well as you could have ex­pected” this sea­son, but still be­lieves the for­mer teenage sensation will prove him­self as a cen­tral striker.

Wal­cott cel­e­brated his 10-year an­niver­sary at the club in Jan­uary af­ter join­ing from Southamp­ton as a 16-year-old. But the club’s long­est-serv­ing player re­mains far from ful­fill­ing the prom­ise of his ta­lent, and he has fallen be­hind the likes of Danny Wel­beck, Olivier Giroud and new star­let Alex Iwobi in the peck­ing or­der.

Af­ter start­ing the sea­son as Wenger’s first-choice cen­tre-for­ward, Wal­cott has had to set­tle for a place on the bench lately and is in dan­ger of be­ing over­looked by Eng­land coach Roy Hodg­son for this sum­mer’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

And Wenger agreed that the vi­sion of Wal­cott blos­som­ing into a top-class cen­tral striker this sea­son hasn’t re­ally come to pass.

“Not as well as you could have ex­pected,” Wenger said ahead of Satur­day’s Premier League visit to Lon­don ri­val West Ham. “He had good pe­ri­ods in the sea­son. I think re­cently he has gone through a much more dif­fi­cult pe­riod. But he will come back.”

Hodg­son has said Wal­cott needs to win back a start­ing spot at Ar­se­nal to earn a place at the Eu­ros, but that looks un­likely given the re­cent emer­gence of Iwobi on the wing and the strong dis­plays from the fit-again Wel­beck up front. How­ever, Wenger said Wal­cott looks de­ter­mined to do so.

“He works very hard, he puts the ef­fort in in train­ing. At the mo­ment, for him and Giroud it’s a bit more dif­fi­cult, but that’s part of the com­pe­ti­tion,” Wenger said. “He un­der­stands that as well, and he fights very hard. But in our job things can change quickly from one week to the next.”

The ques­tion also re­mains whether Wal­cott is best suited in the cen­ter of Ar­se­nal’s at­tack or on the right flank, where he spent most of his ca­reer. Wenger said even the for­ward seems to strug­gle to make up his mind when he’s on the pitch.

“The prob­lem with Theo is he wants to play on the right and through the mid­dle. You have to fix your­self some­where. When he does go through the mid­dle he thinks maybe it’s bet­ter for me on the right,” Wenger said.

“It’s true that I fixed him more through the mid­dle, be­cause of the qual­ity of his runs and the in­tel­li­gence of his runs. And he has im­proved his fin­ish­ing a lot, so he can be a player through the mid­dle. On the flanks to­day you have to work very hard de­fen­sively.”

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