Theo Out – It’s Arsenal & Life Is Never Easy


This could be quite self-indulgent so before those depths are plumbed, caps should be doffed and best wishes for the fullest recovery proffered in the direction of Theo Walcott. As he rode into the pantheon of Arsenal legends by taunting Tottenham supporters on Saturday, the amateur diagnosis seemed relatively positive; a matter of weeks, no more. Best to leave such things to the professionals as those early thoughts were about, oh, six months out.

The immediate question is how does Arsène solve this particular problem. Does he even need to? There are plenty of candidates for a straightforward replacement on the right side of attack, any pairing of the midfield and attackers bar Giroud, Arteta and Flamini could play there and indeed did so when Walcott was missing earlier in the season. Serge Gnabry’s performance against Tottenham pencils him in as the most obvious candidate. It is a chance to shine before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finishes his recovery in the next few weeks.

But the problem is not that simple; who replaces the goal threat? Who was stepped forward at Upton Park to take a brace of goals home with him? I see one who can fill those boots but Podolski that supposed to be in tandem with Walcott, not instead of. Theo has scored five in thirteen Premier League matches this season making him third in the top scorers list. He was missing for two months with an abdominal injury and Arsenal coped admirably in his absence. That some will point to, claiming it obviates the immediate need for a new signing but missing the rest of the season is a lot more of an issue than six games. That immediate need for a goalscorer points to one of the wider issues. This window, as I mentioned yesterday, I felt the manager needed to act to sign cover for Olivier Giroud. Others pointed to Walcott as cover; his injury exposes a flaw in that plan. For the next month, Arsène can call on Lukas Podolski and is then into the realms of youth and potential. Upcoming fixtures offer some respite from the pressing need to sign a player but February and March are less forgiving; the prospect of the encounters with Liverpool, Bayern, United, City, Tottenham  and Chelsea relying on Olivier Giroud’s fitness is a cause for concern. The injury suffered at Newcastle exposed the myth that Arsenal have enough depth to cover his absence. Every time the French striker hits the turf, a million hearts skip a beat; Wenger’s search for another striker has some added urgency.

Yet the immediacy of an internal solution is not apparent and Walcott’s absence raises an uncomfortable problem for him to confront. Quickly, quietly, I am sure that the manager and his scouts rustled together their list of targets who can fulfil Theo’s role in the side. It will be an interesting test of Arsène’s managerial techniques. Will he seek to develop a replacement from within, chancing a season to the fates of youth or dip into the transfer market, sign a permanent or loan deal, placing his hands in the gods of good fortune? It is almost counter-intuitive for Wenger in these moments, to resort to the cheque book as a solution. He knows that promoting a fringe player boosts not only that individual’s confidence but also that of the squad; a clearer signal of belief could not be delivered.

Whether it is a long-term solution or a quick fix is an interesting dilemma for the manager. Arsène has already made it clear he views signing a player this transfer window is going to be difficult with Bayern and Atletico already turning down bids which were not made for Mandukic and Diego Costa. It just needs Porto to follow suit as far as Jackson Martinez is concerned and the full set of media darlings will be staying put. Loan deals seem more appealing; at moments like this you have to wonder if there is a mechanism for Arsenal to recall Joel Campbell from his loan spell in Greece? Indeed, is Campbell himself reading that news, thinking that he is the solution to Arsenal’s problem? The player received his work permit in the summer and it was somewhat surprising when he was lent to Olympiacos, leading to speculation that the manager is not convinced by the Costa Rican. Some people rate him highly and he has gained invaluable experience; Walcott’s injury might have given him an opportunity but the difficulty in balancing the possibilities in either circumstance is highlighted. Few have argued with the disagreed with the decision to let him go but Hindsight is an easy tool to employ, you never get anything wrong in those circumstances.

Food for thought came in last night’s FA Youth Cup tie. Chuba Akpom’s hat-trick hints at youthful answers but despite his haul, it was Dan Crowley who stole the show. However, Akpom’s goals and the potential of Afobe offers an alternative if needed. There is a world of difference between youth and reserve football to the Premier League but that can be of benefit to a young player; the unexpected in an ordered world. Is it a chance for youth to shine through if needed? For Arsène it represents a huge risk, the club sits atop the Premier League and favourites to progress to the FA Cup Fifth Round. The Coventry cup tie offers an opportunity to bring through a younger striker as well as more established players returning to fitness.

No doubt some will argue against the need to buy. Personally, I think a loan is going to be the solution and it allows Arsène the time to search for Mr Right and not Mr Right Now. One thing is certain; it’s Arsenal and life is never easy.

’til Tomorrow.

153 thoughts on “Theo Out – It’s Arsenal & Life Is Never Easy

  1. well consol,quite some passionate fans we are i should say,inspite of what that cunt nasri said about us…..i was really looking foward to the ozil and theo relationship causing havoc,with theo’s nose for goals ozil was gonna be doing for theo what he used to do for ronaldo,so now i guess wenger was right in holding gnabry back all this time,now he can share the burden with the ox and he wont get burnt out,gnabry seems to have the physicality to try out as a striker one day…anybody in here watched this crowley kid??i hear he’s got more in his locker than zelalem,even though he’s just 16,how true is this coz zelalem got my pants wet pre season..

  2. Don’t mind me, I’m in mardy old git mode today.

    People will blame Arsene though Bill, as sure as day follows night, if it we don’t sign anyone and we subsequently fall off the pace. You know the script by now. Someone sent me a link to Tim “patience” Payton already making noises on twatter that Arsenal could spend up 75m in January if they were “bold & ambitious”. Doesn’t say on whom though. Unsurprisingly.

    Anyway, Excuse me whilst I go and become a Sunderland fan for a couple of hours or so..

  3. If we were to get Jackson Martinez, he would satisfy Bill’s love of lethal strikers to go along with a stingy defense!

    Since his move to Porto he has scored 38 goals in 44 games. Not only that but he is a player capable of picking up a pass and running and beating defenders with his pace and dribbling ability. He would absolutely take the EPL by storm IMHO with the service that he would receive from the likes of Ozil, Santi, Ramsey, Jack and the lot. Not to mention he is 6’1″(1.85m) and strong and good at hold up play.

  4. I watch a lot of Portuguese football because I live in Lisbon. English papers are quoting 43 million quid for Martinez. He has scored a lot of goals and he is a more than decent player, not in the same class as Costa (who Athletico will hardly sell before the end of the year given that they are equal first in La Liga with Barça). But 43 million? Please!!! Most of the goals he has scored have been scored against Championship level opposition, the Portuguese league has 2 teams consistently at Premiership level, four more good championship teams and the rest are League 1. So Martinez might be worth 15 million, how much is Rikki Lambert worth? Well think up a sum and add 10 to it.

    Poor Theo. What a sickener, mind you this is a very good world cup to miss if you are an England player because Hodgson will get nowhere with this team.

  5. Harry.

    No doubt some people will blame Arsene. There are probably some that are blaming him for the bad weather during the Chelsea game. I am sure he can handle it and despite any potential criticism he will continue to do what he wants and thinks is best. All the crap comes with the territory when you manage a football team likes ours. That’s part of why he makes the big bucks and we don’t.

  6. @Nick in Portugal

    I suppose you could have said the same about Henry. Played for Monaco in the French League one, not the best league in the world, went to Juventus and did nothing for them in a season, then Arsenal bought him for something like £10m in 1999. Take into account inflation of players prices since then, £40m is’nt too bad for someone scoring the way Martinez is in the Portugal league one. His age is the only difference, I think he is 27!

  7. Do we need to make signings?

    We all remember remember what happened to asplilia. We don’t want to rock the team morale we have now if a quality player is on the bench or pushes one of our made men out.

    I’m genuinely not fussed if wenger doesn’t sign anyone. I can’t wait to see the ox back myself.

  8. I think what we may see Arsene do is move Ozil wide right and put Wilshere in the AM role more often now that Theo is out. Or we could see more of Rosciky and Podolski than we otherwise would have. There are still plenty of options that Arsene can choose from, but I think Gunners everywhere would feel a lot less apprehensive about the situation if a solid striker were picked up during this window.

  9. Man Utd have turned the corner at last. Almost got a draw there.

    I agree with that Dukey. I wouldn’t be averse to signing a super super super top top quality goalscorer in January, but I think we can get by. I’m a big fan of Theo, and we’ll miss what he brings for sure, but we have managed pretty well (overall) this season in his absence.

  10. Everyone knows Arsene isn’t to blame for all the bad weather Bill. That’s the f*cking Tories fault (#taps nose, winks#).

  11. Heh. They are all pretty obnoxious Yogi (and I’m none too fond of most of the “opposition”), hard to pick the worst, but reading Gove’s recent opinions on the first world war, fair turns my stomach. Centenary soon. God help us.

    Bit of politics. I do apologise. Let’s just laugh at Man Utd instead. More fun to be had. It may not last (please God, make it last..), so now’s the time 🙂

  12. Why couldn’t this of happened to man utd under fergie….oh well can’t have your cake and eat it eh….

  13. Bob, upon first glance I thought those post match comments were a parody. Bloody hell.

    There’s always been a ref conspiracy against Man Utd though. Everyone knows. Oh David. Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me…

  14. £30M+ for a player playing in Portugal? already 27 and is not proven outside of Portugal…massive gamble

    He has scored only 2 goals from 6 UCL games(2 goals from 26 shots)…Costa has scored 4 from 3 games

  15. @BOB

    HAHHAHHAHAHH to both of those.

    The funny thing is I think it could only get worst for Moyes. Not only are they probably not going to sign any player in the CL at the moment but come the summer should they not make CL, the likes of Rooney, RvCunt, Nani and Chicharito are going to probably all be putting in a transfer request at the same time!

  16. If these things really do “balance themselves out over time“ Moyes has a great deal more misfortune with referees to look forward to.

  17. Seems Spuds players are very unsettled with Lamela’s father coming out in the public and saying that his son wants to leave. Not to mention Capoue has said that he wants to leave as well. All that money they spent and 50M of it wants to leave half way through their 1st season at Spuds.

  18. Yogi.

    Really happy that you could take a day off from posting. Trouble is I suspect the reason you took todays sabbatical is because you are so busy you don’t have time, so it probably isn’t really a day off for you. I really do think you should take time off more frequently. None of us wants you to burn out. Your posts are always the best, but it was interesting when you had guest posters on a weekly basis. I thought Darius was overly obsessed with the sports pundits and bad referees but I still enjoyed his posts. I also enjoyed Birdkamps posts. I say you should draft Cbob, Limestone, Harry and perhaps even Merlot to give us occasional posts. It would really be fun if Dukey and Jon Jon got together and wrote a post. Anyway enjoy your day.

  19. Not surprising that Moyes would try to lay some of the blame on refs. As we have discussed many many times trying to blame refs or other uncontrollable external factors for you own self inflicted problems is part of the basic human condition. We certainly have done that for years. The Mike Dean thing is perhaps the best example.

  20. REal shame about theo missing the world cup in Brazil, yes the team probably won’t get far but experiences like that don’t come around often.

    I’ve been banging the drum for Martinez for a while but for how much? And your how old? No thanx. 15 tops. I’d rather take a punt on someone younger like pato for 12ish

  21. Congratulations goes out to our very own Mesut Ozil!!!!

    He was voted Germany national team’s player of the year!!

    Job well done!

  22. Hiya Yogi,

    The World Cup in Qatar was always a strange decision especially as they are not a footballing country, but now that the event will be moved to October or November this year it will give Theo the chance to play in the tournament after all.

    His father had said he feared he would never play for England in the WC Finals, having been picked for the squad when he was only 17, but did not play. Then Capello did not pick him for the South African tournament and now this current injury seemed to rule him out for 2014.

    I am pleased for him if it works out for him.

  23. @colts

    I wouldn’t mind Pato for 12M. I also wouldn’t mind Luis Muriel for about 12-15M. I still prefer Jackson Martinez though.

  24. C

    So would I but not for that price. Haven’t seen much of muriel. Pato would be a bargain IF he came good. Maybe the draxler thing will be brought forward if there’s any truth in it.

  25. @Colts

    I think the thing with Pato is that he needs a manager that believes in him and a team that can play the deadly pass or play it into space and give him the right service similar to how Spain and LIverpool use to play when Torres was at his best. When he was at Milan with Ibra they played that way with Ibra playing deeper and Pato making those runs and we have the midfielders that can do that. Muriel is similar to Pato and plays for Udinese and while they he doesn’t have the best stats he is also playing for a side that doesn’t create much of anything.

  26. Apparently Real Madrid have shut the door on any potential transfers out of the club, AW was after a loan deal on their young striker, Alvaro Morata…..Where next, FC Porto perhaps????

  27. @DeiseGooner

    I really don’t understand all the fuss being made about it, you don’t get other players talking to the press and saying something like, ‘actually I’m heterosexual’. And the BBC comments about it have made a direct statement that hewas a “good player and a good MAN”. and by implication he is not ‘a wimpy gay boy’. And gary Lineker saying, ” he is looking forward to interview him. A man, hopefully, paving the way for others’.

    A man, HOPEFULLY??????? that shows the homophobia which still exists. John Fashenu did it in 1990 ffs

  28. @MA

    I guess Sanabria won’t be coming to Arsenal after all as he has signed with Roma. Would have been interesting to see him hear but I guess with Roma he will play sooner rather than later with Totti needing a heir apparent and Gervinho being deplored more on the wing.

  29. absolutely gutted for feoo..
    fuck the world cup, has he played enough games to win a medal if we win the league?

    in regards to our chances its a big blow..we needed him this second half of the season..giroud was having a mini slump and theo was chipping in with the goals but we do have enough cover for his position, losing theo shouldnt push us into the market, we should have been looking anyway..

    what about bringing vela back..weve got a buy back option..hes got pace he can finish he just never got the chance because wenger was picking bendtner instead…i dunno if he’d wanna come back but we couldnt go wrong with someone like vela this window if we are waiting until summer to go all out for a mega buy striker..

  30. @JJ

    I think you have to play in 10 EPL matches and I think he has played in 10.

    Vela would be a interesting player to bring back but I truly do doubt that he would come back or even wants to.

  31. I don’t always get this need to announce that a person is gay… So what? Its not exactly in the cadre of life achievements or am i missing something? People just love to seek attention as far as am concerned.

    Would it not be risky for a team to have a man and his “wife” in it?

  32. team spirit,

    homosexuality is a crime in a lot of countries. The trend in Africa and Russia ain’t good. And the number of gays who have come out of the closet in top football is very, very small.

    Hitzlsperger told Zeit that he wanted to “bring forward the discussion over homosexual people in sport… and to contribute to it.”

    Coming out, even after your career is over, is a signal, and not an unimportant one in my opinion.

    So I’m with Poldi on this one. Respect.

  33. @Mickey

    More than anything it will be interesting to see how Russia does dealing with homosexuality during the upcoming Olympics.

  34. Northbank

    It was actually John’s brother Justin who was gay and he committed suicide when accused of sexual assault by a 17 year old in the US.

    Watching Man City v West Ham, it’s embarrassing. The Hammers are being completely outclassed, but not helping themselves by giving City so much space. Dzeko is playing really well in his partnership with Negredo, except for his awful shot which went over the bar and kept rising. I thought he was a class act at Wolfsburg, but didn’t seem to make the same impact at City. Perhaps he needed a strong complementary strike partner to work with. He and Graffiti used to score for fun in Germany.
    It looked like Maiga didn’t want to be on the pitch, no movement and just letting the ball bounce off him rather than trying to control it. No surprise that he didn’t come out for the second half.

  35. 4-0 now. Negredo is an amazing striker and is having a fantastic first season in the Premiership. £16m? Absolute bargain.

  36. Cazorla’s form is improving. But basically it is Poldi time. A chance for him to step up and show his quality. I’m sure Gnabry and the Ox can provide width, pace, crosses and decent workrate defending. But I really doubt they are going to replace Theo’s goals. I hope Rambo and Giroud have big second halves, but I don’t expect them to recover the same rate of scoring as the strong start. Goals will have to come from elsewhere and right now it is Poldi and Cazorla where more can come from.

    I’m certainly in favor of getting a quick and prolific forward/CF now in January rather than waiting for the summer, even if it means paying more. The benefits are keeping up our momentum and optimism–showing to players, fans, opponents, media etc… that we are serious about trying to win things. And the player will get to adapt and bed in for a strong start to next season.

    If we don’t do this, we can probably cope but our chances for winning the league diminish with the loss of Theo who was fresh and coming into great form. He didn’t score v. Spuds but he was an ever-present attacking threat marauding behind the enemy lines. He was devastating. Sadly, he was poised to have a big impact on the second half of the season. Our midfield is a great strength and hopefully the “handbrake” will be off and all of them will look to shoot more and be more direct in an around the box. Cazorla and Rosicky v. Spuds is an excellent example of what our midfielders need to do. We’ve become used to playing through Giroud who has been wonderful, but we can be more direct and quick. Sometimes we might see a 4-2-4 where we go strikerless and count on attacking midfielders to be more goal minded. We’ll see.

  37. Hadn’t realised that, Roger Johnson has been on relegated team in last three seasons. And this is the player the fat controller calls on to help bail the team out? Bad choice, Sam.

  38. Rumours going around that Bendtner might be coming back in 10 days in time to face fulham.

    And we might be getting a player called Memphis Depay, heard of him but our fellow scouts on here might tell me more!

    The father of fellow Feyenoord youth player Tonny Vilhena has confirmed to @telegraaf that Memphis Depay is in negotiations with Arsenal.

    — Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) January 8, 2014

    And finally Chris Willock who i have no idea about, is training with the first team. MA might be able to give some background to do this, the youth isn’t my strong suit.

  39. @ Moe – Depay plays for PSV in Holland. Has made a couple of appearances for their national team but he is still a kid 21/22, so nothing too exciting there. Willock is about 16/17 I believe and well behind the likes of Zelalem, Eisfeld etc. so nothing too exciting there either i am afraid. With Bendtner and AOC coming back, I would not be too surprised if we did not sign anyone in the transfer window. A pity as I feel we could really use a pacey striker up front. Costa or Martinez, either one would have really made me happy.

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