I was one of those people who got into Breaking Bad years after everyone else, in fact I finished the show only couple a of months ago. Fantastic wasn't it? If like me, you had not found the time to get into it, I seriously recommend you find that time. I am going to spoil it a little for those who haven't yet watched but intend on doing so.
Walter White also known on the streets as Heisenberg is working for Gustavo Fring and as time goes on, Walter is doing things that start to piss off Gus. You don't want to piss off Gus as he doesn't take too kindly to people crossing him. Anyone other than Walter would have literally bitten the bullet a long time ago but Walter is not just anybody, he is special and is able to produce something that nobody else can, so Gus has to bite his tongue until he can find someone who can learn from Walter before taking him out or at least attempt to. So Gus asks a couple of people to study Mr White and learn his secret so he can dispose of Mr White.
Don't worry, I haven't ruined it too much so make sure you watch it.
So how does this all relate to Arsenal? I'll tell you. Maybe, just maybe Walter White is in fact Theo Walcott. Arsene let Mr Walcott go too far during the last drawn out contract negotiations. So much so that a song was written about it. Not only this but also the fact that Theo doesn't give Arsene what he requires on the pitch apart from that 98% speed and the purest of finishing you are likely to find in the black market. But the signs are there that Mr Wenger is patiently waiting for his opportunity to take Mr Walcott out back and send him packing.
But who is going to play the role of Jesse Pinkman? Who is going to be the guy tasked with learning from Theo on the job? The obvious choice for me would be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Ox had pushed himself into an automatic starting position at the start of the season. With Welbeck starting as centre forward in place of the injured Giroud and also Theo Walcott recovering from long term injury, Chamberlain had found the door open for him. But rather than mimic Theo Walcott's strengths, he had taken the lead from new boy, Alexis Sanchez. We had two powerful, hard working dribblers who came short looking for the ball then turn and hurtle towards the opposition defence.
While new boy Alexis was skipping past challenges and smashing in goals from all angles, Chamberlain's end product was almost non existent. The important thing here is that his end product is little to do with his technical ability or indeed his mentality, it was simply because he didn't get into scoring positions anywhere near enough for his position.
Strangely enough we didn't see much in the way of running in behind from Alexis even though he was pretty much our only goal scorer early on in the campaign. Quite similar to Lukas Podolski in that respect.
Fast forward to Monday night and Alexis along with his team mates were in fine form, the Chilean helping himself to another brace. I found Arsene's post match comments very interesting.
"Alexis had one of his complete games. I like when he mixes his game up with the runs in behind and coming to the ball, he did that against Hull"
I think he was referring to his rounding of the keeper from Ramsey's pass. Also his chipped effort that was saved by the keeper following Cazorla's lovely pass.
It reminds me of some quotes from Arsene back in 2011 about Samir Nasri. Without digging out the quote now, Arsene was basically saying that Nasri had improved his game because he is no longer only coming short for the ball but he is willing to run off the ball onto passes and that was why he was scoring more than ever.
When I look through our offensive players it is quite striking how few players we have who are naturally willing to ignore the ball and focus on the spaces. Ox, Alexis, Gnabry, Giroud, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky and more all want to move into an area so they can receive the ball to feet and play from there. Aaron Ramsey is one of a few players who will do the opposite while Theo Walcott pretty much only wants to run in behind, to the point where it is over the top. It is why Theo can go through 90 minute matches having less touches of the ball than anyone else, yet always look like he can score.
It seems clear to me that we are short in this area and for me it was part of the reason why that Barcelona team of a few years ago was so bloody good. They were all able to interchange with each other, all able to keep the ball and create chances but they had players like Messi, Pedro, Villa and Dani Alves who would take it in turns to make short, sharp darts in behind opposition defences which made them so dangerous and unpredictable. Hopefully Chamberlain will add some of that unpredictability into his game.
In many respects the Ox and Theo are polar opposites but which player is more likely to develop the right balance? Can Walcott learn how to dribble past three players in a tight area of the pitch? can Theo win tackles in the middle of the pitch and set up a counter attack? can Theo drop into the midfield area and help recycle the ball?
On the flip side can Chamberlain learn how to run in behind a defence? can he learn when is the best moment to time those runs? can he improve his finishing once he is in scoring positions?
I know which player I'd choose to make the needed changes to improve their game more than the other.
Sadly, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been hit with the injury stick once more so we may have to wait until next season before we see a string of games again from him. Hopefully by that point he will be fully equipped along with Alexis to take over from Walcott full time if of course, Walcott is disposed of and carried over to Merseyside or Manchester.