Why Theo Walcott should start over Danny Welbeck for Arsenal


With Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, who is arguably the favorite to win the PFA Player of the Year award, both playing exceptionally well this season, it seems as if the final forward starting spot is the only real debate up front for the Arsenal team.  The two players vying for the last of three forward positions for the Gunners are long-time Arsenal player Theo Walcott and freshman Gunner Danny Welbeck (although manager Arsene Wenger has also deployed a range of midfielders in this role at times during the season as well).

Welbeck was brought in from rivals Manchester United on the final day of the summer transfer window earlier in the season to give the Gunners depth in all three forward positions.  Although many Arsenal fans were a bit disappointed their beloved team did not sign a more high-profile player, the England international has enjoyed a fairly successful first season with the Gunners.

The 24-year-old forward has eight total goals in all competitions so far during the 2014/15 campaign; however, Welbeck’s contribution to the squad goes far deeper than his goal-scoring ability.  His dribbling, movement off of the ball, and passing prowess help his teammates far more than his quality of finishing inside of the box.

Walcott, on the other hand, does very similar things on the field as Welbeck, but what separates the two Englishmen apart is the fact that Walcott is historically a better finisher of the ball.  Over Walcott’s entire career, he has averaged a goal every 4.1 matches, while Welbeck has managed to hit the back of the net every 4.6 games.

In fact, if you only factor in the last three seasons combined, Walcott has scored a goal every 2.4 matches, while Welbeck has a goal-to-game ratio of 5.5.

Perhaps Walcott’s defining match as a quality goalscorer was in December of 2012, when the England international netted a hat-trick (and also racked up two assists) in a 7-3 Arsenal victory over Newcastle.  All three of Walcott’s goals on the night were excellent.

The first goal was Thierry Henry-esque, as he opened up his right foot and slotted ball past the keeper into the bottom corner of the net.  None of the three goals, however, were as impressive as the final one.  Walcott ran through four Newcastle defenders and coolly chipped the opposing keeper inside of the six-yard box.

Walcott’s abilities on the pitch caught the eyes of Barcelona superstar Leo Messi years ago.  The four-time Ballon d’Or winner said of the Arsenal speedster, “I can only speak from experience but (Walcott) was one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against.  Barcelona players are not scared easily but I can tell you that when we played Arsenal last season he truly worried us.”

As good as Welbeck has been for the Gunners this season, would Messi or any other world-class player claim that he “worried” them?  I would suggest no.

With Walcott missing a big chunk of matches over the last year or so due to a serious knee injury, Welbeck has obviously been given much more playing time as of late.  Nonetheless, once Walcott regains his confidence on the pitch, he should be the one to complete an attacking trio alongside Giroud and Alexis.


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  1. strongbad April 10, 2015
    • foreverinourshadows April 10, 2015
      • Opti April 29, 2015
  2. Brandon Whitfield April 10, 2015

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