Theo Walcott has indeed been one of Arsenal’s shining lights this season. His goal in midweek earned his team a decent 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park. But this weekend, he was one part of an attacking trio, fielded by the Gunners, which was flat, timid and ineffective – in many ways summing up the current state of Arsenal Football Club.
The thought of Swansea City going to the Emirates Stadium and departing with three points would, a few years ago, have been unfathomable. True, even going into Saturday’s Premier League fixture, Arsenal were expected to see off their south Wales opponents, eventually. Alas, this was not the case, as a brace from Spanish sensation Michu gave the Swans a priceless win and increased the pressure on Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.
Wenger chose to start with a frontline in which the misfiring Gervinho was flanked by Walcott and Lukas Podolski. Olivier Giroud, who has led the line and expended much energy in the process in recent weeks, was semi-rested and relegated to the bench.
All three starters put in dreadful performances. Gervinho was maladroit and clumsy in what served as a microcosm of the entirety of his Arsenal career so far. Walcott was wasteful and, at times, undetectable. And Podolski, who arrived at the club in the summer to much fanfare, was anonymous, and again failed to complete a full 90 minutes, departing as a 67th minute substitute in favour of Giroud. Five months into his time in north London, Podolski is yet to start and finish a match for Arsenal, which is worrying.
But what is just as worrying as the ineptitude of the first choice attack is the lack of other choices across the squad. A fatigued Olivier Giroud and 19-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the options Wenger turned to against Swansea. While Oxlade-Chamberlain is an exciting prospect and a full international, it is still harsh to put such high expectations on a young man.
Waiting in the wings, of course, are the forgotten men – Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh. Neither were in the match day squad at the weekend despite Arsenal’s lack of creative and attacking options, which implies Wenger really does not envisage a future at the club for either player. If that is the case, questions should be asked over why Wenger chose to keep the pair at the club this summer, rather than move them on.
And it may be time for Wenger to give the dubious duo one last chance of succeeding in an Arsenal shirt. With the Gunners languishing in a mid-table position in the Premier League, and many Arsenal fans urging their long-serving manager to throw in the managerial towel, it could be Wenger’s Hail Mary move.
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