Part 2- Two key battles in Arsenal versus Barcelona
2. Theo Walcott versus Eric Abidal
In the words of Lionel Messi, Barcelona has never been as scared of a player as they have been of Theo Walcott. When Walcott was subbed on by Arsene Wenger in last season’s quarter final tie against Barcelona, the Englishman changed the game around with
his direct approach.
He looked to take on defenders and this allowed Arsenal to play on the counter attack against a Barcelona side which was dominating the game in terms of possession. In the end, Walcott’s endeavours earned Arsenal a 2-2 draw with Barcelona.
In all honesty, Theo Walcott has been massively overrated in the English press for some reason or the other. His blistering pace is a sight to behold but equally appalling is his ability to cross the ball, being a world class winger, Walcott’s final pass/delivery
is woeful to say the least.
Arsene has mostly used Walcott as a game changing substitute but now there is pressure on the Frenchman to start Walcott from the start against Barcelona. Such an approach might garner benefits for Arsenal who absolutely needs to attain a favourable result
at the Emirates stadium before the second leg at Nou Camp.
Over the course of the 2010/2011 club football season, Walcott has undertaken a steady improvement process which has meant that he has already netted two goals in four appearances for the Gunners as far as the UEFA Champions League is concerned.
In the English Premier League, Walcott has a total of seven goals and six assists which make him an indispensible part of Arsenal’s title charge. Theo is indeed Arsenal’s best weapon against Barcelona.
As the Spanish giants prepare to take on Arsenal, Eric Abidal will be dreading the fact that he might line up on the left wing as a full back against Theo Walcott. Theo’s pace has the tendency to scare the living daylights out of any defender but Abidal’s
lack of speed means that Barcelona are susceptible to a counter attack on their left side.
Pedro’s inability to track back effectively only compounds the problem that might be the unbecoming of Barcelona’s European challenge.
However before one completely discounts Abidal as a left back, his experience might work wonders for him against a winger like Walcott. Theo’s lack of ambidextrosity means that Abidal will do well to make the Englishman cut inside towards the likes of Puyol
and Pique rather than risk his adventures on the wingers more favoured right side.
Furthermore, Barcelona’s coach, Pep Guardiola, will likely deputize Xavi to help out Eric Abidal.
The Spaniard midfielder and the French full back can work together to team up on Walcott to deny the Arsenal forward space and time needed to have a drastic impact on the game as a whole.
Simply put, the Theo Walcott’s on the field battle against Eric Abidal can have a momentous effect on the final result at the Emirates stadium.
One of the competitors is in the twilight of his career whereas the other is just on the brink of stardom. The winner has the bragging rights and a quarterfinal berth in the UEFA Champions League.
The views expressed by the writers are his own and do not reflect the editorial policy of