Walcott Crucial for Gunners’ Reading Trip

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On Monday night, Arsenal return to the scene of their incredible 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One Cup, and will be desperate to bounce back strongly from their embarrassing midweek defeat to Bradford City.

Arsene Wenger’s team selections this season have generally been predictable, but he’s struggled to decide on his best right-sided midfielder. Theo Walcott has started there five times, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey four times each, and Gervinho has played there on three occasions. Walcott missed the Bradford defeat with a calf injury, but seems likely to be fit for his game at the Madejski.

If Walcott is available, Wenger must pick him. Walcott hit a fine hat-trick in the 7-5, and his raw pace will be crucial up against Reading’s Nicky Shorey, who lacks speed. Playing Walcott and Olivier Giroud together gives opponents a positional dilemma: the natural approach against Giroud is to push the defence high up the pitch, keeping the Frenchman away from the penalty box, but Walcott’s speed makes a high defensive line problematic.

Despite his lack of starts, Walcott remains Arsenal’s joint-highest league this campaign and their most prolific assistor, and while Wenger might be reluctant to pick him because of the ongoing stand-off regarding a new contract, Arsenal can’t afford to do without such a key attacking weapon.

If Walcott is injured, Wenger should turn to Oxlade-Chamberlain, telling him to stay wide and dribble at Shorey. Out-of-form Gervinho would also offer pace, but Ramsey would be a negative selection: left-back is Reading’s weak spot, and Arsenal need to attack it directly.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.

Pic from PA