Did Walcott do enough to warrant a striker's role last night?

By Avenell Dave

Two goals to the good and deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half, there was a cruel inevitability both that we'd gift Schalke a goal at a critical moment and that they'd go on to equalise.

A draw, let's be honest, was just about a fair result and indeed Schalke could argue that they did more to warrant the three points.

Listening to the commentators, it made me chuckle to hear them criticise Theo Walcott's performance.

"Apart from scoring his goal, he's done nothing all game," one said.

Now, Theo Walcott is not Thierry Henry, nor is he Lionel Messi or Ruud van Nistelrooy.

But he's proved this season that he can score goals and I don't blame him for thinking his time has come to play as a striker.

Before he moved to North London, my favourite non-Arsenal player when I was a kid was Gary Lineker.

He played the game with a smile, he didn't cheat and he made a lot of the skills he had, which could be summed up simply as: he knew where to be and when.

There was some of that in Theo's goal last night.

Olivier Giroud has many talents but raw pace isn't one of them.

That a defender got back to make a last ditch tackle was no surprise, but Walcott's deft flick and calm finish smacked of a player who deserves to be playing every game.

Many have criticised Wenger for not fielding Theo against M*nure but we don't know what signs of fatigue or illness he was showing after the Reading game.

And anyway, that match is gone. We can only look forward.

What Ivan Gazidis must do now is work out a way with Wenger of nailing Theo down to a new contract as soon as possible.

To lose him just as he comes good would be a huge smack in the face for everyone.

Giroud also did well last night, winning headers, holding up the ball and making a nuisance of himself.

He doesn't convert every chance that comes his way nor does he have all the grace of other some other strikers but he's starting to show now that he is an important part of the team and I hope those who keep comparing him unfavourably with RvP start to get the bigger picture.

Of course, we need to start keeping clean sheets again. We need to create more chances and control games as we used to rather than nicking goals on the break. And we need to get our confidence back for good.

But last night was a start and showed that even in a few days, the players are capable of turning it around and at least showing some fight.

I hate seeing players booked for petulance, but can you blame Lukas Podolski for getting angry when the referee stopped play with Arsenal in a superb position to score with a Schalke player down.

You can argue that the sporting thing would have been to kick the ball out, and I'm all for that when the ball is in no man's land, but not when there's a key passage of play. 

That could have made it 3-1 and a very different night for the Gunners.

A few days until Fulham now, a few days to get more players fit and build on any confidence gained last night.

There's still plenty of work to do...