Zagreb: Former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has criticised Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's decision to leave out Theo Walcott from the starting XI in the Champions League match against Croatian football club Dinamo Zagreb.
The England forward was left out of the starting XI as Wenger rang in the changes in Croatia for the Champions League Group F opener, with Olivier Giroud, who was preferred ahead of Walcott in the attack, being sent off after only 40 minutes.
Walcott was eventually introduced as a second-half substitute and scored as Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Ferdinand believes that Wenger made the wrong call in not opting to feature the 26-year-old from the start.
"They've got to give Theo a chance (up front). He's been there all these years, he's mooted about wanting to be a centre forward. I think Wenger is hurting Arsenal by not giving him a sustained period playing up front," Ferdinand was quoted as saying by BT Sport on Wednesday.
"Give him a chance to prove himself, if he can't do it then go out and buy someone," the former England defender added.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright agreed with Ferdinand's views.
"I would've started Walcott just because he played against Stoke City, scored a very good goal. Came on tonight again and scored a very good goal. He's got the momentum," Wright said.
"At the moment Giroud doesn't seem to be in the right place. Booed off for France the other week. It's just not quite happening for him. It's Theo's time. Arsenal have to find a way to play to Theo's strengths."