Arsenal manager denies dropping Walcott due to contract standoff
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has rubbished claims that Walcott has been ignored from the starting eleven due to his contract wrangle.
Theo Walcott has made only three starts this season for Arsenal, two of which came in the League Cup games. His only start in the league came in Arsenal’s first match of this season (against Sunderland).
Since then Walcott has found him being limited the role of a substitute.
Walcott’s absence from the starting line-up has led to media speculation that the Arsene Wenger is freezing out the England international who is yet to sign a contract extension. The winger is into the last year of his present contract at the Emirates and talks of a new contract have hit a roadblock since Walcott rejected Arsenal’s initial offer.
While it was believed that Walcott demanded a pay-rise, the 23-year-old later claimed that he wanted an assurance of regular first team football. Walcott has also publicly expressed his desire to play through the center as he believes he can excel as a striker.
Wenger, apparently, also believes that Walcott can be a success through the center. But Walcott’s lack of involvement in the first team has raised many questions. The Englishman is doubtful for the match against Schalke in Champions League due to illness and Arsenal will take a late call on his availability for this game.
“I will make a decision on when I know how fit he feels. This is a digestive problem. He has been sick overnight and didn’t practice today, so we have to see how he is tomorrow morning.
“It’s nothing linked to his contract at all. It’s because I’ve played other players, it’s as simple as that. We started the season well, he was injured too.
“He played 40 minutes on Saturday – you can’t say he’s not played.” – Wenger was quoted in press.
Despite his limited appearance, Walcott has already scored five goals and made four assists this season. Recently he put in a fantastic display against Reading as Arsenal made a brilliant comeback from being 4-0 down to winning the match 7-5 in extra time.
While many thought that Walcott’s hattrick against Reading would guarantee him a start against Manchester United last weekend, especially given Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho were unfit, but Wenger instead started with Ramsey on the right. Walcott was eventually brought on in the second half but Arsenal struggled to penetrate the United defense.
Arsenal will have to resolve Walcott’s contract issue before the winter transfer window as the England international will be free to open talks with other clubs in January.