Arsenal may be out of the title race, but the battle for a Champions League place rages on. Whilst many fans have been disillusioned with the Gunners achievements recently, the evidence does suggest that on-pitch success isn’t too far away.
Their form at The Emirates has been sensational, nothing short of title-winning quality. Eight wins from nine is eclipsed only by Manchester United and Manchester City at the top of the table. Away from home, they’ve failed to reproduce those performances which has left them in the chasing pack once more. Two recent draws against Southampton and West Ham have seen the Gunners lose ground in the race for a top-five finish. Perhaps it is time for Arsene Wenger to look to his young guns and fringe players who have been so impressive recently.
The 6-0 win against BATE in the Europa League demonstrated everything good about the depth of the Arsenal squad. If Wenger needed reminding of the quality he has available to him, there’s no better demonstration than the demolition of the Belarussian side.
One player who stood out in that game was England forward Theo Walcott. Walcott has just 47 minutes of Premier League action to his name this season and he’s failed to start a single game. He hasn’t started a Premier League fixture for Arsenal since April.
The boss on @theowalcott…
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 18, 2017
Against BATE he grabbed a goal and an assist, matching his two-goal haul against them earlier in the season. Recently, Arsenal have switched to a back four possibly opening the door for Walcott to step up and stake a first team place?
It won’t happen straight away, nobody is under any illusions that he’s found himself down the pecking order, but if he were to continue to turn in strong performances in cup competitions, how much longer could he be ignored in the Premier League? With the Gunners still battling in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for the England man to shine.
Walcott is still only 28-years old and he should now be at the peak of his career. His performance against BATE underlined the quality he possesses and if the packed calendar begins to deplete the squad, he surely has the potential to make a significant impact.
The very least Gunners’ fans would like to see is Walcott on the bench for those tricky away ties. His pace could be an enormous asset late on in games and if he could be used to open up tired defences then perhaps Arsenal could improve on their patchy away form.
In a run of five away matches since the beginning of December, Arsenal scored three times. Contrast that with Manchester City who managed to notch 15 times in their six away games from the same period.
The key to domestic success is getting results on the road against your title rivals and Manchester City have proven able to do just that when called upon. They emerged from the Manchester derby 2-1 winners, a result correctly tipped in the Oddschecker preview ahead of the game. They’ve scored in every away game this season and that is just one of the many reasons they’re top.
In second place, Manchester United have failed to score in just one away game. Arsenal have drawn a blank on five occasions and scored a solitary goal on a further five. The Gunners have scored fewer goals on their travels than Stoke in 17th place and yet they’re still within touching distance of third place.
The Magnifique Alexandre Lacazette 🇫🇷
Apprection Thread. pic.twitter.com/uh61kuHKe3
— P. 🌬 (@RedLacazette9) December 9, 2017
The key to success in the second half of the season is surely finding a way to reproduce the scintillating form they’ve shown at the Emirates whilst on their travels. Alexander Lacazette has scored eight times this term, only twice away from home. If they can start scoring away from home then they’ll need to keep Wednesday nights free for Champions League action once again next season.
With continued cup success comes an increased opportunity for the Gunners nearly-men, the players milling around London Colney desperate to show what they can do in the Premier League. Who knows, maybe Walcott’s time is finally going to arrive, almost thirteen years after first arriving at the club.