Theo Walcott demands Arsenal make a strong start to the season

The England winger wants the Gunners to challenge for the Premier League title

Theo Walcott has called for Arsenal to “step it up” and lay down a marker in the Barclays Premier League title race with a flying start to the new season.

The Gunners are set to play the second match of their Asia tour against a Thailand XI at the My Dinh National Stadium tomorrow as manager Arsene Wenger continues his squad's preparations for the new campaign.

There has been much talk of the need for Arsenal to bring in some marquee signings this summer - with one £30million bid for Liverpool's Uruguay striker Luis Suarez rejected, while Real Madrid's £25m-rated forward Gonzalo Higuain, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, and even Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney have been touted as potential new arrivals.

Walcott, who was top scorer with 21 goals last term, believes no matter what the team make up is, they must all build on a superb end to the previous campaign which saw the Gunners go on a 10-match unbeaten league run to snatch fourth place ahead of Tottenham and with it secure another shot at the Champions League, with a two-legged play-off ahead next month.

"The way we ended the season last year, 11 games undefeated - we need to do it from the start, which I believe we can," Walcott said, quoted on the club's official website, http://www.arsenal.com.

"The manager shows so much belief in us in every single game so we need to step up and I think we have got a very good chance of challenging this season.

"Every game in the Premier League is very tough and very interesting.

"It always comes down to the last few games, so we need to believe in ourselves."

Walcott added: "Time will tell if players come in or not, but we just work with the squad we've got at the moment. Come the start of the season, there could be changes.

"We know it is a very long campaign, but we are all very excited about our prospects."

England midfielder Jack Wilshere missed Sunday's 7-0 win over an Indonesian side in Jakarta with illness, but is expected to feature tomorrow.

As well as being busy on a recruitment drive, Arsenal are also looking to offload several more fringe players this summer to help free-up the Emirates Stadium wage bill.

However, Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner appears no closer to departing after talks with German club Eintracht Frankfurt broke down over personal terms and Hull manager Steve Bruce, who had the forward on loan when at Birmingham and Sunderland, admitted a deal to bring him to the newly-promoted Premier League club could prove too expensive.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, who did not travel to Asia because of illness, has been linked with a £7m switch to Roma.

Elsewhere, Arsenal's Costa Rica international Joel Campbell, 21, has received a work permit to play in England, having spent time in both France and Spain following his initial signing in the summer of 2011.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with a loan move to Crystal Palace, who won promotion back to the top flight via the play-offs.

PA

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