The ever popular game Football Manager has used it's database to simulate Walcott's scenarios at Arsenal, playing out the 2012/13 season to see how the team would perform with Walcott playing on the wing or as a striker.
Theo Walcott is yet to sign a new contract, seemingly because of his desire to play down the middle as one of Arsenal's main strikers. But how would Arsenal fare this season if Walcott was given the run of games down the middle that he's after?
Projected Arsenal finish with Walcott as striker.
The great and unique advantage to the database is that the stats have strong accuracy based on their scouting network. Football Manager run experiments with the Sports Interactive team to see how certain teams/players perform based on rumoured stories/issues in the press.
Walcott as a striker - Rotated with Giroud in a 4-5-1 formation. Figures suggest that Walcott is the preferred option, starting 33 games to Giroud’s 24; Walcott scores 15 goals with a 7.08 average rating, whilst Giroud manages 18 goals but a slightly lower average rating of 6.98; Arsenal finish the season in 5th place after a disastrous second half to the season, falling from 2nd in mid-January; But on a positive note, Walcott signs a new deal until 2015 and is valued at £13 Million.
Projected Arsenal finish with Walcott as winger.
Walcott as a winger - Rotated with Cazorla in the right-sided attacking midfielder role; Cazorla is the preferred option, starting 43 times to Walcott’s 25; Walcott is mainly selected when Cazorla moves into the AMC role that he favours; Walcott’s figures are 25 appearances, scoring 4 goals with an average 6.76: He does sign a new deal but later in the season than in other sim, and is valued at £10 million; Arsenal finish 4th, with 3 more points than in the other sim, again they reach 2nd place – this time in early April – but can only win 2 of their last 6.
Football Manager prides itself on bringing football fans as close as possible to real-life management. This is based on their extensively researched stats database. They have a network of 1,000 scouts worldwide and each player is rated on 200 different stats. Over 530,000 players and managers are registered on the database and Everton FC has a licence to the stats to assist with the club's global scouting processes. AVB and Sven Goran Eriksson have also been known to use Football Manager for statistical guidance on unknown foreign players.
Walcott does indeed perform better as a striker but at the slight detriment to the club’s overall finishing position. Let us know what you think of Walcott's future, and of course of Football Manager, is there a better football management game?!