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."

Get Adobe Flash player

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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried