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With Arsenal desperately looking for the winning goal against a defensively astute Crystal Palace side, Arsene Wenger brought on under-fire winger Theo Walcott. The Emirates Stadium faithful sighed in disbelief as they have been advocating the involvement of Joel Campbell after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained an injury.
Much to the dismay of the fans, the former Southampton starlet gave away possession in almost a comical fashion seconds after receiving the ball near the penalty box.
With only two men to beat, observers would have expected him to drift right and abuse his pace to deliver a low cross to Olivier Giroud at the start of the season, but he unsurprisingly allowed Yohan Cabaye to steal the ball with Joe Ledley standing not far away.
Is Joel Campbell really deprived of his chances?
Censuring him would merely be scapegoating as the other 10 players on the pitch also had their share of underwhelming moments on Sunday afternoon. In addition, he has played only 167 minutes in the last 10 league games.
In such limited time on the pitch, he scored one of the most important goals of the season against Leicester City to spark a comeback on Valentine’s Day. With that being said, there is no denying that his performance has greatly slumped.
On the other hand, the Arsenal manager had handed the Costa Rican international 13 starts and four substitute appearances in 19 games since the return of Alexis Sanchez, but he managed only two goals and four assists in that time frame although his overall contribution to the team was rather praiseworthy.
Contrary to the popular belief, his first-team involvement has neither decreased nor increased since Walcott’s return as both men have amassed nine starts apiece since.
What ‘could’ be the reason for Wenger’s ‘obsession’ with Theo Walcott?
Fans have long been accusing the French manager of being loyal to undeserving players, but his decision to play the perennial scapegoat a tad more than the underdog could be thanks to the fact that the former’s current contract runs for three more seasons.
Given his outrageous wage demands, even Chelsea, Manchester City or even West Ham United would think twice before tabling an offer for him. Only Chinese Premier League clubs would be interested in securing his services, but he would likely turn down the prospect of moving to Asia, as it would completely curtail his chances of ever donning the England strip again.
On the other hand, the 23-year-old will be under Arsenal’s umbrella for only two more seasons, and many Serie A and Segunda Division clubs will take him in the blink of an eye as he demands affordable wages.
With the current season coming to a closure, offering the player who would play for the club next season some minutes is what most managers would do, especially when the player has only been making cameo appearances. In addition, the manager monitors the performance of his players on the training ground every single day, and perhaps, he has a reason to bench the fan favourite.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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