Arsenal manager Wenger concerned by Walcott criticism

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is concerned criticism of Theo Walcott’s performance for England against Italy will affect the forward’s mental state, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

Walcott started the 1-1 draw in Turin in a front three with Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and England captain and Harry Kane, the Tottenham Hotspur striker making his first start for the Three Lions. Manager Roy Hodgson re-shuffled the make-up of the side throughout the first-half, with Walcott at one point playing behind Rooney and Kane, but was castigated for his ineffectiveness in what is an unfamiliar role.

Wenger was asked if he had ever seen Walcott play in what is classically considered the No.10 position and replied that he had not, and went on to explain why he feels Walcott was unable to contribute during his time at the point of Hodgson’s diamond. “Theo’s strength is the quality of his movements, he wants to go and get on the end of things,” Wenger said. “He’s not a guy who provides.

“Theo’s sensitive and I’m a bit concerned about the damage that game can have on his mind,” he added. “Being exposed like that, people have a harsh judgement on him that is not deserved.

“I don’t think it was the intention [of Roy Hodgson] to play him there. It was maybe Rooney who took the initiative during the game to play higher up and tell Theo to drop back.”

Walcott was replaced by Ross Barkley before an hour had been played and England eventually drew level with the Azzurri, Tottenham winger Andros Townsend coming off the bench to cancel out the first half goal of Southampton striker Graziano Pelle.

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