Theo Walcott: Don't Turn Me Into A Supersub

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has pleaded with Arsene Wenger to hand him more starts after expressing fears he is turning into an impact super-sub for his club.

Walcott was once again required to come off the bench against Partizan Belgrade on Wednesday and made his presence felt by putting Arsenal ahead with a cool finish six minutes after being introduced to help them qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 3-1 victory. The occasion marked 21-year-old Walcott's 150th appearance for Arsenal in almost five years since joining from Southampton.

Undoubtedly that figure would have been higher had Walcott not been plagued by injury but it is the fact that he has started just 68 of those games that will concern Walcott. If his 12 starts in the Carling Cup are taken away, the situation becomes even gloomier for Walcott in terms of making Wenger's starting XI and his frustration is beginning to show.

"As a substitute you want to make an impact but I want to play now, I want to be starting games being 21. I wanted to show the boss what I could do," said Walcott of his latest appearance from the bench. Walcott certainly has a case regarding his claims for a place in the starting line-up, even if Wenger is unlikely to be reaching for the painkillers.

In his three Barclays Premier League starts this season, Walcott has scored on four occasions, while in five substitute appearances he has yet to find the net. The pattern was repeated last season with two of his three Premier League goals coming when he started the game. Indeed, the statistics show that in terms of goalscoring for Arsenal, Walcott does his best work when he starts.

Looking ahead to the trip to Old Trafford, Walcott said, "These are the games you always want to play in. I have never started at Old Trafford so it could be another milestone for me. It is always frustrating being on the bench. Ask any player, it is not just me. This season, I have come back and the team has been playing well and winning so it is difficult to get back into the team as there is no reason to change it. That is understandable but it is frustrating. Hopefully against Partizan I have shown what I can do."

Unfortunately for Walcott his Champions League cameo is unlikely to be enough to earn him a starting place at Old Trafford as Wenger appears to have decided his England international is best used as an impact player.

Exclusively by Simon Cass

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