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."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick