Arsene Wenger hails Arsenal winger Theo Walcott following comeback


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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger is proud of the way Theo Walcott recovered from a poor start to lead Arsenal to an incredible north London derby victory yesterday.

The England international endured a frustrating opening period against Tottenham, who racked up a two-goal lead by the 34th minute thanks to goals from Louis Saha and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie pegged Spurs back before half-time, although calls remained for Walcott to be replaced at the break.

However, the winger followed up a Tomas Rosicky effort with a second-half brace to complete a resounding 5-2 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

"The crowd were starting to get on his back and you wonder if you're doing him a favour if you leave him on," Arsenal boss Wenger said of Walcott.

"Considering the rest of the team were high on confidence, I felt that he has the qualities that we needed - a player who can be direct, go behind the defenders. Nobody else is like that.

"He is a very direct player. You know he can sometimes miss a first touch but still, considering the balance of our team, I felt it was important to keep him in our side."

Wenger was quick to praise the fighting spirit Walcott and his team-mates displayed against Tottenham and backed his side to finish above their north London rivals.

"It is still possible, if we keep our run going," the Frenchman said. "Why not?

"But before the game it was 'impossible'. I always thought it was possible, but it would be down to consistency. Everybody in the Premier League can lose points.

"They have a different schedule to us, but if we continue to play like that, then why not?"

Despite the many positives, victory was tarnished somewhat by both Rosicky and Thomas Vermaelen picking up knocks.

"Unfortunately we have some bad news for Rosicky today and Vermaelen as well," Wenger said.

"Vermaelen has an ankle problem and Rosicky a back problem. I don't think they will be available for [international duty on] Wednesday.

"Will they be available for Saturday [to face Liverpool]? There is a big doubt."