Arsenal players must ease pressure on Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott

 

Theo Walcott has called on Arsenal's players to take responsibility and ease the pressure on manager Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman has come in for criticism from sections of the club's fans in recent weeks, with matters reaching a head with his substitution of youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Manchester United, when fans reacted angrily and captain Robin van Persie's frustration was also visible.

While Wenger has shielded his players from the worst of the Gunners faithful's frustrations, England international Walcott says now is the time for him and his team-mates to stand up and be counted.

"The manager will take all the stick," he told the Daily Telegraph. "He looks after us. He believes in us.

"As players we need to look at ourselves. We need to take responsibility. The last few games haven't been good enough.

"The worst thing is we have a lot of regrets. There are games we could have won. When you go to Swansea and score two goals you should win."

Walcott praised Van Persie's leadership in the dressing room as he revealed the team's culture of reflecting at length on the good and bad points of their performances.

"We always like to reflect on the game in the dressing room, even at half-time, sharing our feelings on the game," he said. "Robin is a great captain who wants to win. He believes in the team and knows the team can do better."

While injuries to key players have played their part in Arsenal's failings, Walcott insists that cannot be an excuse - though he concedes Jack Wilshere has been particularly sorely missed.

"We've missed him. He's an important player even after just that one year (in the team)," he said. "People compare him to Cesc (Fabregas). I think he can be better than Cesc, definitely. It's just a shame he had that massive injury.

"Injuries don't help but we can't just look at injuries."

PA

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