Arsene Wenger: Theo Walcott is right – he can play as a striker for Arsenal
Arsène Wenger praised the professionalism of Theo Walcott after the winger scored a hat-trick on Tuesday night amid a long-running contract dispute with the club. Walcott's deal expires at the end of this season, he has not signed a new one and Tuesday's game was only his fourth start of the season.
Walcott scored in added time at the end of the first half, the second half and extra time as Arsenal recovered from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 in one of the most remarkable cup games in living memory.
"I always said that I want to keep him," Wenger said afterwards. "Apart from the contract talks we have to give him credit for the way he is committed and for the team and the way he behaves."
Walcott has said publicly that he is particularly keen to play up front more for Arsenal. Although he was playing on the right wing on Tuesday night, his running and finishing were excellent and Wenger insisted that he agreed with Walcott that he could move through the middle.
"He was superb," the manager said. "I always said that he will be a striker so we are on the same wavelength there. He has something, first of all he is a good finisher now. The way he scored the first goal, the second I believe as well he knows where to be in the box for the rebounds. I like that, because that is a quality of the striker that you cannot give to anybody. You feel it or you don't. He has the qualities to play there."
Given that Walcott could leave on a free transfer next summer, there will be pressure to sell him in January if he has not agreed a new deal. The longer the impasse continues, the more likely it is that he will be sold.
But Wenger reasserted his public commitment to the 23-year-old. When asked whether Walcott would be a striker at Arsenal, Wenger said "that is what I hope". But when it was suggested that the hat-trick would increase the cost of keeping Walcott, Wenger joked: "I will speak to my finance minister."
Walcott was delighted after the game. "The spirit has got to be the best thing we showed," he said. "We need to turn that into the Premier League now. The most important thing was to get a win to get into the next round and we're there."
Latest in Sport
Wow - what a weekend for British Motorcycle racing!
by Luke Wilkins
22 May 2013 05:00 AM
The dust is barely settling on the Premier League season and the bookies are looking to persuade us ...
by Gareth Purnell
22 May 2013 02:01 AM
The guard has changed at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years. Meanwhile, down the road, the ...
by The Sports Lawyer
21 May 2013 10:01 PM
Gaël Clichy: Roberto Mancini must take share of blame for dismissal
Sergio Garcia apologises for 'fried chicken' remark aimed towards Tiger Woods
Exclusive: Championship clubs set to push for safe-standing trials
Phil Neville in frame for role at Stoke City
Andy Carroll stalls on £15m move to West Ham in hope Newcastle step in
- 1 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.