Arsene Wenger handed Theo Walcott an opportunity to show just why he deserves to start for Arsenal in this evening’s Europa League contest against Red Star Belgrade.
Walcott is yet to start a Premier League game this season but Wenger gave the Englishman the nod in Serbia, leaving Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette home.
Red Star have been on an impressive run, winning six of their seven matches entering this evening’s contest, but Walcott will have recognised an opportunity to impress his manager.
Wenger showed just how he views Red Star by naming a weakened starting XI which included Mathieu Debuchy, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Clearly, the Frenchman wasn’t expecting a difficult challenge.
Yet Walcott showed why Arsenal consider him such a frustrating player with a string of disappointment moments.
Starting just behind Olivier Giroud in a 3-4-2-1 formation, the pacy forward occupied many dangerous positions.
But he was let down by either poor finishing or simply being in an offside position.
Three Walcott moments summed up his night
It started when Walcott failed to convert from a good position in Red Star’s box. It wasn’t the easiest chance, admittedly, but it needed a more composed finish.
Next up was a scuffed effort from inside the area. Again, where’s the composure Theo?
Finally, Walcott showcased a lack of awareness that has prevented him from reaching the top of the game when he was caught offside following a nice passage of play.
Arsenal would go on to win the game through Olivier Giroud's spectacular winner.
Here’s how Arsenal fans reacted to Walcott’s display.
Ahead of the contest, Wenger admitted his Arsenal side are still getting to grips with the Europa League following a lengthy exodus.
"It's the first time in 20 years we've been in the Europa League so we are now discovering the level," the Frenchman said, per Sky Sports.
"For us it's a potential trophy to win but we also want to do well in all the other competitions we are in.”