Theo thrives as centre of attention after Arsenal dismantle Reading at Madejski
00:26 GMT, 18 December 2012
So, this was Theo Walcott's moment. His moment to prove to Arsene Wenger – and maybe even himself – that he can be the bona fide central striker he so desperately wants to be.
Having recovered from the calf injury that kept him out of Arsenal's previous three matches, Walcott was handed an instant return to the starting line-up.
His inclusion came as no surprise because Wenger had to make changes after last Tuesday's shameful Capital One Cup loss to League Two Bradford.
Thriving: Theo Walcott proved Arsene Wenger made a good call to start him up front
But where would he play With Olivier
Giroud on the bench, the role of the Gunners' lone striker was up for
grabs and Wenger gave Walcott his chance.
But for a curling free-kick he fired
comfortably wide, the 23-year-old started slowly as he struggled to get
to grips with his new role.
He cut a frustrated figure as his team-mates failed to provide the England international with suitable service.
It was not looking like the audition
Walcott had hoped for as he failed to beat Adam Federici when one on
one with the Australian keeper in the 20th minute.
Shake on it Walcott got off to a slow start against Reading but scored his side's fifth goal
Good form: Theo Walcott put on a fine display up front for the Gunners
All smiles: Walcott shares a moment with his manager
Taking Santi Cazorla's pass, he
failed to show the deadly conviction needed from a top-level striker. To
be fair, his build-up play was neat and economical – his cross that led
to Cazorla's second of the night showed tremendous creative vision.
But his deficiencies in front of goal
were shown again early in the second half when he failed to convert
with just Federici to beat before firing a long-range effort just wide.
Thankfully his efforts in front of goal were finally rewarded in the final 10 minutes as he stroked home to seal victory.
There's no doubt Walcott offers a
threat as a striker, but he will know that goals will be handy to get
him a 100,000-per-week contract.