Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain backs Theo Walcott to lead the line for Arsenal

Contract rebel has got his wish of playing in a central striking role

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is convinced Theo Walcott can lead from the front for Arsenal.

The England international has struck on impressive scoring form while negotiations over a new contract continue.

Manager Arsene Wenger had seemed unsure whether Walcott could function effectively as a striker, but that theory has been blown out of the water over the festive period after he starred in all three games he started up front.

After scoring against Reading and winning the decisive penalty against Wigan last week, Walcott stole the show as a lone hitman again on Saturday, bagging a stunning hat-trick in the 7-3 demolition of Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.

Walcott put Arsenal ahead with a breakaway goal that brought club legend Thierry Henry to his feet and then wrapped up the win with two more classy finishes. He also set up Olivier Giroud for both of the Frenchman's goals.

Wenger likened Walcott's performance to one of Henry's, and Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks there can be no doubt that his team-mate can follow in the Frenchman's footsteps and go on to become a top striker.

"He definitely has all the attributes to play up front," said Oxlade-Chamberlain of Walcott, who now has 14 goals for the Gunners this term.

"The goals are coming. He has proven he can do a really good job for us up there.

"For someone with his pace it's hard for anyone to defend against and when he gets the service he can always punish teams so he's doing really well.

"His performance was amazing. You could see after his first goal he had a spring in his step but he has been like that all season. He has been brilliant."

The Arsenal fans who spent a large portion of the last 18 months questioning Walcott's ability were instead urging Wenger to "sign him up" as the player saluted all four corners of the ground on an impromptu lap of honour last night.

Walcott turned down a new contract - reported to be worth £75,000 a week - in the summer and has failed to reach an agreement with the club ever since.

Wenger and Walcott himself have both had to field answers on the issue all season, but Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks his fellow Southampton youth academy graduate has remained professional throughout the whole drama.

"Even with all the speculation that's going on, he's stuck to his work," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"He's a great professional, a good mate and a good lad around the dressing room. We need him to keep scoring goals for as long as he can.

"We've all been giving him a bit of banter (about his contract) but that's for Theo's people and himself to sort out with whoever is involved."

PA

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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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