Arsene Wenger has backed Arsenal striker Theo Walcott to get out of his current slump and return to form sooner rather than later. The England international is facing the prospect of missing out on a place in the Three Lions squad for their upcoming trip to France for the European Championship finals in June owing to his lack of game time with the Gunners. Apart from him, Olivier Giroud has also been replaced by Danny Welbeck as the manager's preferred centre-forward choice.
Walcott has struggled to break into the starting XI in recent months owing to his lack of form and contribution to the team's cause and is currently below Welbeck, Olivier Giroud, Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell in the pecking order when it comes to a place in the starting XI be it at centre-forward or as a winger. He has contributed just five goals in 23 league appearances with his last start coming in February during the 3-2 loss to Manchester United following which he has played 31 minutes of Premier League football in the last four games.
The French manager concedes that it is difficult at the moment to see the Englishman or the French forward breaking into the starting XI owing to the impressive performances from Iwobi, Welbeck and Sanchez with their next assignment coming against West Ham United on Saturday (9 April), but he has backed Walcott to turn his form around. Moreover, the manager believes that the 27-year-old forward is still not sure about his perfect position, and despite being given a chance to play in his preferred number 9 role, he is yet to grab his opportunity and nail down a place.
"He works very hard. I must say he puts the effort in training. At the moment for him, and for Giroud, it's a bit more difficult. But that's part of the competition. [Theo] understands that as well and he is fighting very hard," Wenger said, as quoted by Arsenal's official site.
"But in our job things can change very quickly from one week to the next, it can change. He had good periods in the season. After I think, recently, he has gone through a much more difficult period. But he will come back."
"Theo wants to play on the right and through the middle. You have to fix yourself somewhere. When he doesn't go through the middle, he thinks 'maybe for me it's better on the right'," the French coach explained.
"It's true that at some stage I fixed him more through the middle, because of the quality of his runs, the intelligence of his runs, and he has improved a lot his finishing. He can be a player through the middle. And on the flanks today you have to work very hard defensively."