Pace root of Walcott injury woes says Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that Theo Walcott's pace could be at the root of his injury problems.

The 21-year-old England international turned in a fine individual display as he helped himself to a double in the Gunners' 4-0 Carling Cup victory at Newcastle, which booked their place in the quarter-finals.

It was his first start since his return from an injury suffered on England duty and the Frenchman looked on with fingers crossed as he rode a series of committed challenges with no ill-effects.

Wenger said: "At his pace, when you get stopped, you are always vulnerable.

"Tonight, he got one or two tackles and he got away with it because he did not have his full weight on his standing leg.

"But against Switzerland, for example, what can you do? He is not vulnerable because of his injuries, it was a tackle.

"When you play against a player who is so quick, sometimes you can mistime tackles.

"It's not necessarily always that you want to hit him, but he is so quick that you think, 'Now I can get the ball', and it has gone away."

Walcott was simply too quick for Chris Hughton's much-altered side - both managers made nine changes - although Arsenal were the beneficiaries of two slices of good fortune as they established a 2-0 lead with 53 minutes gone.

The had gone ahead in first-half injury time when Ryan Taylor attempted to clear Nicklas Bendtner's header off his own line, but saw the ball come back off keeper Tim Krul and drop into the net.

But there was more than a hint of controversy about the Gunners' second when Bendtner appeared to come from an offside position and block Mike Williamson as he attempted to head off Walcott, who finished with some style.

Bendtner's 83rd-minute strike and Walcott's second two minutes from time wrapped up a deserved win, but the Magpies could be forgiven for feeling somewhat aggrieved about the way the foundation was laid.

They will now turn their attention to Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with derby rivals Sunderland, a fixture which carries far more weight than tonight's for the supporters, and they will do so with the club having attempted to draw a line under speculation about the manager's future.

The Magpies issued a statement after the game insisting they hope to renegotiate Hughton's contract by the end of the year.

The former Republic of Ireland international said: "I presume the reason it was said was because of the unjust speculation that was flying around in the last few days.

"One thing it [the speculation] doesn't do, it doesn't deter me from the job that I am doing.

"Is it a help? Of course it's not a help; is it something I welcome? Of course it is not something I welcome.

"But one thing I can guarantee it doesn't do, it doesn't take my focus off the big job that I am employed here to do."

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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