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Category Archives: Interviews

Theo Walcott – The ‘Striker’ within

 

Theo Walcott signed for Arsenal from Southampton in January, 2006. He was seen as the man who would eventually replace Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Throughout his career he has had to bear the burden of high expectations; expectations of his countrymen, of becoming the next best thing to wear the English jersey; expectations of Gunner’s fan, of becoming the next ‘Titi’.

Shadow of Henry

 People have inevitably compared him with Henry due to the apparent similarity they possess. Like Henry, he is blessed with Gazelle feet. In fact, Walcott has broken Henry’s 40-metre sprint time as he confirmed himself as the quickest player at the club. Their style of finishing has also been compared over and over again. He was even handed out the famous No.14 shirt, previously worn by Thierry Henry.

The only thing that he is criticized for at times is his consistency and final delivery. That will come with more experience; the most positive aspect of his game is that he improved massively last season. He was far more consistence and if not for his injury, he could have been Arsenal’s top scorer last season.

“I want to play up front”

During his early days in Newbury,Swindon Town and Southampton has played mainly as a striker. After switching to Arsenal, he has mostly played as a winger.

Recently Walcott has admitted he wants to play in a more central role next season. He was quoted saying

“I was signed as a striker and I want to play up front,”

“I think I have done my trade out on the wing. I think a lot of people forget that I’m not a winger. I see myself as a striker, although if I get played up front, it will take me a few games to get used to playing there again because I haven’t played there for about five years now.

“I think I have done a fairly good job on the wing for Arsenal and I will play anywhere for this team but, hopefully, the fans will start seeing me a bit more up front.”

Henry, like Walcott, started out as a winger as well. At Juventus, Henry was deployed on the wings. It was only after Arsene Wenger brought him to Highbury that he started to play as a striker. He transformed from a winger into one of the best forward of his times. Walcott seemingly wants to follow his footsteps.

What others have to say?

This not the first time that Walcott has urged his manager to play him through the middle, as a striker. In fact there are lots of people who think similarly.

Harry Redknapp his previous mentor, once said

“I think Theo will be better through the middle, as a striker. He can be like Thierry Henry, who started out wide but was far better as a central striker and became world class.

“A few years ago, Henry was the best player in the Premier League by a mile. He had great pace and I can see Theo one day becoming a world-class striker.

Former Arsenal winger Perry Groves has backed Walcott as well.

He’ll be better as a striker because when he plays upfront he’ll play instinctively,” Groves said. “He’s a player who is better playing off his instinct, and if you look at him he’s better when he hasn’t got time to think about his finishing.

“Playing out wide sometimes when he gets one-on-one with the full back and the full back stands him up he hasn’t got a trick. He’s not that sort of jinky player; he relies a lot on his pace. He’s learning his trade.

“His final ball has got better but I can see him ending up as a striker, maybe not next season because Robin Van Persie will play as the pivotal striker and you’ve got [Marouane] Chamakh coming in but if he’s still at Arsenal the season after I can see him ending up as a central striker.”

Wenger’s point of view

Even Wenger himself has backed him to play that role in media. A year ago he was quoted saying “He is very, very close to playing that striker role.  He is more of a natural striker [than winger] as he likes to put the ball into the net himself. Theo is 21, give two more years to Theo and imagine what he will be.

“And don’t forget that when Thierry came here, he was a winger. When I first played him as a central striker, he said to me, ‘I can’t score goals’. In England, you are very impatient. Theo can be a prolific goal scorer as once he is a yard in front of the defender nobody can catch him.”

 The Obstacle of 4-3-3

The main obstacle with playing Walcott through is middle is Arsenal’s current formation. During the days of Henry and Bergkamp, Wenger deployed a 4-4-2 formation. Nowadays, he uses a 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 formation. In this formation, the lone striker who plays up front should have a physical presence and be good in the air. Walcott sadly doesn’t fit the bill here. If Robin Van Persie and Chamakh remain fit, they will always be preferred in that role. Walcott would fit in perfectly as a supporting striker in a 4-4-2 formation, but for that Wenger has to change his tactics, which seems very unlikely. Walcott would most likely switch to a central role to boost his side’s counter-attacking options when they were ahead in a game, with a taller and more physical starting striker preferred.

My Opinion

I think Walcott can add a different dimension to Arsenal if he plays through the middle. He might never fulfill his potential playing as a winger. Once he plays as a striker, his game will rise to another level, and for all of this to happen, Arsene will have to change his tactics. I believe Van Persie and Walcott can form a deadly partnership. Imagining them together, reminds me of the by-gone era of Henry-Bergkamp partnership and the joys of watching it.

The Professor has to decide now, to bring back the 4-4-2, to unleash Theo as a striker. That will let a player do justice to his talents, a player who he himself believed, was destined to be special. Its time for another transformation. Its time to put the No.14, where it belongs to – at the top.

By Amlan Majumdar

 

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Guardiola: ‘Arsenal Have Agreed To Negotiate Fabregas Deal’

Straight talking: Pep Guardiola will not be rushed as he continues to chase Fabregas

Pep Guardiola has claimed Arsenal have agreed to negotiate an offer made for Cesc Fabregas. They have already failed with a 27 million pound bid, but the Barcalona manager is still hopeful of securing the 24 year old’s services and is convinced Fabregas is determined to move to Barca this season. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, he said,

“This year Arsenal has agreed to negotiate and we are working on it,”

” Barcelona has made an offer, Arsenal another and we have time until August 31 and we’ll try to reach an agreement.

“It is easier for Cesc in this way because he fits the template, but I know these things cannot always be done.”

He added that the club have enough money to sign both Fabregas and Sanchez.

“The club has saved money to try to sign him,”

“We will try until the end try to bring him. I hope that eventually everything can be arranged. But sometimes things cannot be done.

“We will fight to the end to try to get Cesc because we believe he will improve the team and the squad.”

The Arsenal captain did not travel to the pre season tour of Asia due to a hamstring injury and is a doubt for the trip to Germany on saturday against Cologne, which has left some fans doubting whether he really is injured. However Guardiola has rubished this claim, saying

“Cesc has to do what Arsenal ask of him, I do not like this insinuation that he has told them he will not play. When he is well then Wenger will play him.”

Talk over the lack of finances available to Guardiola have also been dismissed, saying they have money for both Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, although Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta insists Sanchez is a priority signing.

“Alexis has a lot of potential and I’m told he’s a very good boy and that is close to the profile you want,” he said.

He also admitted negotiations are “in a final process” and said: “We expect a happy ending and that Alexis is here with us soon.”

But should Cesc, our captain, leave? Leave you answer in comments.

 

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Miyaichi Interview: “I am so glad to join a big club like Arsenal”

Miyaichi is looking forward to his first season with Arsenal

The name Ryo Miyaichi is one becoming increasingly familiar to Arsenal fans and is a player of whom great things are expected in the future and earlier this week Arsenal.com caught up with Ryo to get his verdict on his progress so far.

Ryo, This is your first pre-season with Arsenal. How are you finding it?

“I am so glad to join a big club like Arsenal. So I really want to be prepared to play for them.”

You are a ‘new boy’ into the team. How are you bonding with the rest of the team?

“Everyone is welcoming and warm. They are trying to speak to me but my English is not at the good level yet. However I am trying to speak to them in English if possible.”

What are your thoughts on Arsène Wenger now you have had your first proper training sessions with him?

“I am so glad that Arsène Wenger appreciates me. I am very happy that he wanted me to join the training camp. I want to play with confidence and play to thank him.”

How much does it help to have manager who understands Japanese culture and the Japanese people?

“Arsène was with Grampus Eight so the Nagoya people know he is a great manager. I am from near Nagoya so I feel close [to them] and Arsenal coach Boro Primorac used to live quite near to my home.”

How do you describe yourself as a player?

“I am a player who wants use my speed to go past defenders. So it is about making use of my speed.”

What are your opinions on the skills of your team-mates at Arsenal and who in particular stands out?

“Arsenal play in one of the top leagues in the world. Everybody has great skills here. I feel that I can learn from everyone. I am just enjoying the chance to practice and to learn.”

How do you look back on your loan spell at Feyenoord?

“Of course this was my first year as a professional. I had a very good experience there. I was glad for the opportunity at Feyenoord. I really appreciated the fans and all the staff there.”

Did you make a big jump forward in standard because before you had been playing high school football?

“Technically I thought I improved. I was putting in effort to get a result. But it was not only technical. On the mental side I was aiming to get to a high level. I hope the effort I put as given me a high level now.”

Now you are back at Arsenal, what aims do you have for the coming season?

“I hope I can contribute to the team. I just want to work hard to do my best.”

Earlier Bacary Sagna had this to say about Miyaichi & Carl Jenkinson

“I thought they played their own games, they weren’t scared to play. They were full of confidence and that’s good for the team. I hope they will push us because we need this kind of players”.

Thomas Vermaelen also had this to say:

If you look at Ryo [Miyaichi], I’ve seen him a few times in the Dutch League because I follow it really well and he did well at Feyenoord. The people, the crowd loved him.

Some friends of mine played with him and said he’s a good guy and technically he’s really good so I’m looking forward to know them better when we play more games and train more with the ball”.

While Wenger had this to say about the Japanese winger:

“I rate him personally [and] it’s a good opportunity for him to show that he has the talent to play for Arsenal Football Club. He has an opportunity to show that [he is good enough for the first team].He has done extremely well at Feyenoord and wehave so many good reports. It will be interesting to see him play”.

By Ayaan Farah

 
 

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