Football

Arsenal: Would they have won with Walcott?

Walcott is still a few weeks away. (©GettyImages)
Walcott is still a few weeks away. (©GettyImages).

It had been 64 days since Arsenal fans had last had to suffer the pains of defeat, with the frustrating loss to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday evening their first since the opening day of the season.

An eventual failure was an inevitability for Arsene Wenger's side, of course, although this does not soften the blow inflicted by Dortmund. Arsenal, however, would surely not have been overcome by their German opposition were Theo Walcott available for selection.

Much has been made of Arsenal's supremely gifted midfield, which has been vastly improved by the acquisition of Mesut Özil and the quite brilliant form of Aaron Ramsey. The weekend defeat of Norwich was a glorious example of the options available to Wenger, as both players starred.

Such has Arsenal's form been in recent weeks, it prompted many to wonder how Walcott would displace any of the players from Wenger's first-choice quintet of midfielders, but the winger was clearly missed against Dortmund.

Arsenal were far from poor against Jurgen Klopp's side, and few would have declared the home side unworthy winners had they triumphed, but they became bereft of ideas as the game progressed.

The Gunners appeared at their most threatening when they were able to break quickly, often carried by Ramsey, and able to get in behind the opposition full-backs and attack the final third with real intent.

Özil identified this area as the potential key to Arsenal unlocking the Dortmund defence in the second-half, with the Germany international taking up a position on the right touchline in the hope of breaching BVB from the flank.

His influence, however, was less keenly felt from such a position with a tendency to cut back inside onto his left foot rather then pursue the byline, which really reinforced the need for a player such as Walcott.

With his pace and ambition, Walcott would have provided Marcel Schmelzer with a stern examination, and offered Arsenal more cut to their undeniable thrust when launching another counter-attack.

On numerous occasions in the second-half when launching an out-ball, Arsenal were in desperate need of Walcott to attack the space in the right channel but, too often, Olivier Giroud was left alone to contest the Dortmund defence.

These long-passes down the centre of the pitch to Giroud offered very little to Arsenal, who were limiting themselves to playing in front of the Dortmund backline, rather than behind it.

The game became stretched enough for Walcott to really make hay, and three points could have been Arsenal's were the 24-year-old not still on the treatment table.

Arsenal have demonstrated their ability to beat teams this season playing an exquisite brand of football, centred around short-passes and rapid interchange. They do, however, need to develop more ways in which to win.

They are able to do that, of course, when all of their options are fit, and Walcott's return will significantly strengthen a side primed to achieve great things this season.

Topics:
Football
UEFA Champions League
Arsenal
Theo Walcott

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