Walcott must act to see off usurpers

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Developments at Arsenal will be worrying Theo Walcott and he may need to reinvent his game to retain the status he has in Arsene Wenger’s squad.

There were some difficult moments for the England international last season, none more so than the unprecedented rage aimed at him by Gunners fans.

Emirates Stadium was the setting of some agonising moments for supporters of the north London club and, despite eventually finishing third in the Premier League, they will nto want a repeat of what they witness in 2011-12.

Walcott has always suffered from problems of fitness and form, but the promise he had shown from such a young age always had people believing it was only a matter of time before he would start to fully capitalise on his undoubted talent.

In fact, that is also one of the greatest sources of the frustration so many feel with him.

His place in or on the edges of the Arsenal starting eleven has rarely been questioned in the past couple of years, but the reported comings and goings at the club this summer may affect this position.

Germany international Lukas Podolski has already been confirmed as a new addition for next season, while France international striker Olivier Giroud will reportedly be the next to join the Emirates Stadium outfit.

Podolski is an attacking player that can play in any number of positions across the front, which automatically make him a danger to Walcott’s starting place.

A major criticism for Arsenal in the last campaign was the lack of support in the central forward position for captain Robin van Persie, so Giroud’s arrival would ease some of the strain.

French media have been suggesting Wenger intends to play Podolski, Giroud and Van Persie alongside one another – a move that, if accurate, should be a serious concern for the 23-year-old.

However, the biggest threat to his current status is the emergence of a player whose origins are remarkably similar to his own.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came through the ranks at Southampton and made his debut in the first team at a very young age – ‘The Ox’ is actually the second youngest debutant for the south coast club after Walcott.

The 18-year-old only made a handful of starts for Arsenal in the second half of the season, but his development was obvious and he became more regular a participant as the season went on.

Oxlade-Chamberlain also received a surprise call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2012, but this was not the greatest shock.

That was the fact the talented young man was in the starting line up for the opening match against France.

Walcott featured but it was as a token substitution just before the 90th minute, not leaving enough time for him to make any kind of impact.

While Hodgson is keeping his cards close to his chest, not many are expecting the make-up of the side to differ much for the second Group D fixture against Sweden on Friday night.

Walcott is facing usurpers on all sides and he will need to react – how he does this is another matter.

Firstly, he will need to up his game and start to perform at his best far more often, as he will not have the margins for error he currently has at Arsenal once the new personnel have bedded in.

Another option could be to finally prove he can be considered the central striker as he is often wont to state, not a diminutive or nervous presence when more closely guarded by opposition defenders.

Not content with taking Walcott’s crown as the nation’s ‘next big thing’, he is starting to oust him from the teams they play for – it time for Walcott to react.

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