Will Walcott ditch the penthouse and can Arsenal land Aubamkhi?

“You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
I’ve finally decided my future lies
beyond the yellow brick road.”
– Elton John

I’m not telling you to get on twitter – to get a twitter account so that you can reply or like things – but I will tell you that you need to go look at David Ornstein’s Twitter feed. It’s a miracle.

Ornstein is a BBC reporter and one of the most trusted sources for Arsenal-related transfer news. His tweets are just boring old BBC news – you know, verified sources, facts, real news, stuff like that. But the responses… lord have mercy. Twitter can be quite obnoxious and Arsenal twitter is one of the most obnoxious groups out there but for whatever reason whenever Ornstein tweets, people calm down and just tweet funny memes about what a god Ornstein is.

My favorites are the memes that boil all of John Cross’ piss. He’s the reporter for the Daily Mail The Mirror (I get these two confused because they are equally garbage, but the Mail is also racist, which I should remember) who is widely considered unreliable. And so, you get memes like this:

That’s “The Orn” as Maradona punching in the Hand of God Goal over John Cross. Anyway, it’s funny to me and I recommend you follow him if you’re on the Twitter. https://twitter.com/bbcsport_david/

Today he wrote an article about Theo Walcott on the verge of joining Everton. From the article it sounds like this is far from a done deal. Theo is having a (lengthy) fitness test with the Everton medical team while all parties negotiate.

Walcott still has to agree to leave the penthouse of Arsenal and pick up the plough at Everton. Walcott has been so comfortable for so long at Arsenal that it would be a bit of a shock to see him move on and take on the new challenge.

As I’ve said many times before, playing in Sam Allardyce’s defense-first system would probably suit him down to a tee. Walcott needs space to operate. He never picked up the knack for dribbling in tight spaces and doesn’t have the touch necessary to take the ball down under pressure, but in a Sam Allardyce 442 with him and Tosun up top and Sigurdsson lumping balls for him to run onto, he could be dangerous. I’m thinking he could even get 5 goals and 5 assists. 10 goal events is a good return for the final 15 games of the season for Walcott.

Here’s a chart of Walcott’s goal contributions over his career. It looks bad (because it’s going down) but going down here is actually good because it means more goals per time played on the pitch.

If Walcott plays every minute of the last 15 games, that’s 1350 minutes. If he averages a goal event (goal or assist) every 116 minutes, which is his average over the last three seasons, then you’re looking at 12 goal events. My guess is that he will play closer to 900 minutes and thus 7 goal events will be more likely but I went for the middle ground earlier with 10.

While his goals and assists contributions are outstanding Walcott never developed his other skills; dribbling, passing, crossing, etc. This is the “penthouse” I’m talking about with him.

But at Everton he won’t need to do those things. His job will be to chase long balls, score goals in one-v-one situations, win corners, and cross to Tosun. I think he will do that well.

The other big news out of Ornstein is the imminent transfer of Alexis Sanchez. According to the Ornicle.. Alexis has agreed to terms with United and Arsenal have agreed to let him go in exchange for Mkhitaryan. The only stumbling block here is Mkhitaryan. Ornstein isn’t saying that he’s dragging his feet, in fact he says that Mkhitaryan and Mourinho have a “different football philosophy”, but that the decision is up to Mkhitaryan. Ornstein also said that there are other options available but quite what those are I’m not sure.

I’m officially lukewarm on Mkhitaryan. He was good at Borussia Dortmund for two seasons in his entire career. He’s a good dribbler and creator and I guess it makes sense to replace Sanchez with a player like Mkhitaryan but he’s not anywhere near the level that Alexis is.

The other big story is Aubameyang and Malcom to Arsenal. I don’t believe that Auba wants to come to Arsenal at all. He has publicly laughed at the suggestion in the past and I would guess that he’s going to China where they will pay him all of the money.

That said, there was a story in the Guardian, my only other source for transfer news, that said Arsenal “are confident” of signing him. The Guardian reports that Sven Mislintat – the new Arsenal head of recruitment and the guy who brought Auba to BvB – is the one leading the charge to get Aubameyang.

The Guardian is not a “fake news” paper and I believe that they published this story based on a reliable source. The only thing I would caution is that the story sounds like it’s been fed to the Guardian by Arsenal. I don’t doubt that Arsenal are interested in Aubameyang, I do doubt that he is interested in Arsenal.

The one outstanding question in all this is Arsene Wenger. Wenger has increasingly made noises that he’s being cut out of transfer business. When asked about Alexis before the loss to Bournemouth, he said “I don’t master the rhythm of it, but it could happen today, tomorrow or not at all.” This is a far cry from the Wenger of a few years ago who cheekily looked at a reporter, smiled, and said that Arsenal have a surprise – before signing Mesut Ozil.

A lot of Arsenal supporters have tweeted at me that this is a good thing, that it’s the club slowly taking the power away from Wenger and laying the groundwork for his retirement this summer. I want to believe that. Arsenal are slowly getting rid of the Wenger players like Theo Walcott who have hung like an albatross around this club’s neck for a decade and bringing in players identified by the management team. Whether that will be successful remains to be seen but at least it will be different.

And finally, there are suggestions out there that Ancelotti is being lined up to replace Wenger and while I don’t think Ancelotti is a great manager I welcome him: at some point you have to get rid of Wenger and start over. Unless Arsenal have a young, bright manager lined up and are ready to invest 5 years in a project the next manager at Arsenal is likely going to be a fall guy and if Ancelotti wants to be that guy, well then let’s have him.

Rebuilding this club is going to be a long, slow, process. It’s going to have up and down seasons. We will have big name players and big flops. But at least it will be something different from Wenger’s odd consistency over the last 10 years.


Sources: Guardian, BBC, Opta

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