Ex-Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes Arsene Wenger should consider himself lucky that Theo Walcott has stepped up in the No. 9 role this season.
Wenger was heavily criticised for his failure to bring in a new striker during the transfer window, yet Walcott has proven his manager right with some encouraging performances up front.
“There was so much disappointment from the Arsenal fans about Wenger not getting in a centre-forward in the summer and you can understand that,” Smith told Sky Sports.
“Theo has always wanted to play through the middle, and I think most of us have had doubts as to whether he could do it. But what he needs is a run in the side to be able to learn the intricacies of the position, the runs to make, the hold-up play.
“He’ll only be able to do that by getting a run in the side and it seems Wenger is willing to give him that. He wouldn’t be willing to do it if Theo wasn’t playing well and scoring goals, but he is.
“It comes down to confidence with his finishing. If he thinks, ‘I need to be scoring today or else I might be losing my place’ that can make you tighten up a little bit. You need to have the faith of your manager and the confidence to go out there and be nice and relaxed when you do get chances.
“It seems that he’s getting towards that point now which is very encouraging.”
Walcott has scored two goals in six Premier League appearances so far this campaign.