The January transfer window followed an all too familiar pattern for Arsenal as they were left battling to hold on to one of their prized assets, rather than strengthening their own squad.
This time it was Theo Walcott whose future was the subject of much speculation with the England international’s contract due to expire at the end of the season and on-going talks between the club and the player’s representatives seemingly at a standstill. Walcott looked to become the latest in a long line of stars seeking the Emirates exit door.
Arsenal supporters could be forgiven for sensing severe déjà vu after seeing Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie leaving under similar circumstances in the last few seasons, but in a surprise twist Walcott committed his future to the Gunners.
Despite reported interest from both the Manchester clubs, Walcott opted to stay in north London having been given opportunities to play in his preferred role as a central striker and an increase in wages to £100k-per-week.
Two months on and the former Southampton man must surely be wondering if he made the right decision.
Since signing on the dotted line Arsenal’s fortunes have wavered further with only four wins in eight league outings, an embarrassing FA cup defeat at home to Championship side Blackburn and a crushing first leg home defeat to Bayern Munich in the second round of the Champions League, that has left their hopes of progression in tatters.
Sunday’s loss at Tottenham leaves Arsene Wenger’s side five points off the Champions League qualification places and seven points behind their north London rivals bringing the unwelcome possibilities of finishing behind Spurs in the league for the first time since 1995 and without Champions League football for the first time in 16 seasons.
The consequences for the club as a whole would be dire to say the least and would heap pressure on Wenger who has failed to deliver a trophy in eight years but has largely pacified the support with regular Champions League football.
For Walcott, who burst on to the scene back in 2006 when Sven Goran-Eriksson selected the then 16-year-old for England’s World Cup squad, it represents a significant setback in fortunes having decided to sign a contract extension that will keep him at the Emirates until 2016.
Walcott has enjoyed a fine season personally, leading the club's scoring charts and returning the most consistent performances of his career to date, but the situation at Arsenal threatens to derail the progress he’s making.
It is a point that will be even more evident given the rise of fellow Southampton academy graduate Gareth Bale; as their respective clubs appear to be headed in opposite directions, Walcott must ensure that they don’t do the same.
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