Arsenal legend Ian Wright says that Theo Walcott deserves the chance to play a central striker role, according to ESPN.
Walcott is current in the midst of an ongoing contract dispute with the club and has stated in recent weeks that he wants to follow in the footsteps of Arsenal’s all-time greatest goal scorer, Thierry Henry by playing up front in a striker’s role after being utilised on the flanks by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Wright, who himself scored 185 goals in 288 appearances for the north London outfit, believes that Walcott should be given the opportunity to prove his worth up front, “I love Theo and have been saying for a long time that he should be playing as a striker. Clearly he is not the finished article and could do with some more work from the Arsenal coaches, but Theo has all the ingredients to be a top striker.”
Wright says he cannot understand why Wenger won’t allow the 23-year-old to play up top, “Wenger has been saying for a long time that he sees Theo developing into a striker, so give the guy a chance and prove he can do it. If it doesn’t work, then fair enough, but give it a go it has to be worth a try.”
Wright believes that the jeers Walcott has been receiving from certain sections of the Gunners faithful is unfair, and hopes the negative press aimed towards the winger begins to dissipate, “My hope is the fans get Theo contract situation sorted and then he can get on with showing what he can do on the field. There are so many good things about this guy, but people always tend to focus on the negatives.”
Walcott has always had the weight of expectation on his shoulders, ever since being picked in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England squad for the 2006 World Cup. As a consequence, Wright believes that Walcott has always struggled to live up to the reputation he was given at the age of 16, “The trouble for me is that people believe he should be doing more than he does every week and the expectation around him isn’t his all his own fault. There he was at 16, never played for Arsenal in the Premier League, and he was thrown into the England World Cup squad in 2006. It was stupid. Ever since, people want him to win games on his own every week and nothing he does is good enough.”
The former Southampton man has fallen out of favour at the Emirates ever since the contractual situation has arisen. Despite scoring a brace against Coventry City on Wednesday night, Walcott is expected to start on the bench when the Gunners entertain Chelsea tomorrow.