Soggy fixtures at DW are rarely an entertaining affair. Add in a heavy dose of sub par play from the visitors and awful crossing from Ronnie Stam and Jean Beausejour — well, let’s just say 1-0 wasn’t a surprising scoreline.
Beausejour’s clumsy challenge on Theo Walcott in the 60th minute led to the games only goal, Mikel Arteta calmly slotted the penalty past Ali-Al Habsi. It was a harsh decision from Jon Moss. Mossy — as his friends call him — had a bit of a howler on this day, encapsulated by Franco Di Santo’s two minute minor for blinging out with an earring.
Arsenal win three in a row for the first time this season. Calls for Arsene Wenger’s head have subsided, though crass banners are still unfurled by clowns in the stands. Arsenal are where we thought they’d be. Not contending for the title, but in range for a Champions League berth.
With their boxing day fixture cancelled the focus will revert to the ongoing Theo Walcott contract saga. As Wenger carried out his photo op with the newly resigned UK5 — Wilshere, Ox, Ramsey, Jenkinson and Gibbs – earlier this week, Theo’s absence was glaring.
Wenger has indicated his gut feeling is Walcott will eventually sign. The 23-year old is seeking £100,000 a week while the club has offered 25,000 less. That’s not a large sum. Walcott has found success in the central attacking role. Flanked by Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski, Walcott was a threatening force against Reading on Monday. And although he was not an imposing figure today — he will never be an imposing figure, lets be real — his streaking run created the winning goal.
This is not a Robin Van Persie situation. Theo isn’t a world class striker, though I do believe he will develop into a capable one given time to adapt to the position. Wenger has stated the Southampton product ‘owes Arsenal’ for giving him a chance ahead of more experienced players, weakening the team in the process.
The logic is flimsy, but I get it. In an age where loyalty in football is dependent on the zeros on the cheque and not the badge on the kit, it would be nice to see Walcott reward Wenger for his faith. However, it’s this kind of thinking that has led to the Arsenal exodus in recent years. £25,000 is chump change for a club that is preparing the open the war chest in January. If they do decide to add a David Villa or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar — neither of whom could play in the Champions League — that shouldn’t make Walcott expendable. Depth is what Arsenal needs. Give Theo the money and add a veteran striker.
Sometimes you’ve got to treat yourself — and your melodramatic fan base. Don’t be a scrooge.