Theo Walcott issues the challenge to Arsenal squad to hit the ground running

England winger wants squad to continue good form ahead of Premier League title challenge

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The Independent Football

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has challenged the rest of the squad to hit the ground running if they are to challenge for silverware this season.

The north London club went on a 10-match unbeaten streak at the end of last season that saw them beat bitter rivals Tottenham to the final Champions League qualifying place. The run seemed to be sparked with the Champions League win at Bayern Munich,a nd although the result wasn’t enough to see them progress to the next stage of the competition, it instilled a confidence in the squad that lifted them towards the run-in.

However, a slow start along with shock cup defeats to Bradford and Blackburn saw them slump to as low as 10th position in the league table after defeat at home to Swansea at the beginning of December.

Walcott told Sky Sports: "We need to remember those moments that we had and make sure we do it from the start, because we could be challenging for anything. We could beat anyone.

"We want that sort of fear factor, especially at the Emirates.

Walcott finished the season as top scorer with 21 goals, and he believes that the slow start cost the any chance of challenging for the league title last term.

"It is quite frustrating at times, because we should have done that at the start of the season. Who knows where we would have been."

Manager Arsene Wenger is looking to strengthen his side as he prepares for a run at the title, nine years after he last tasted Premier League success.

Having already signed France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo, he is also keen on bringing Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain to the club, though talks between the two clubs have reached a stumbling block in the last few days.

Arsenal have also been linked with moves for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, though a reported £30 million bid for Suarez was apparently rejected and Rooney looks set to stay at Old Trafford, which may force Wenger to push the Higuain deal through for a slightly larger fee than they had expected to pay.

Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Julio Cesar has also been linked with a move across London, with the goalkeeping position a continued worry following Wojciech Szczesny’s and Lukasz Fabianski’s inconsistent form last season.

Arsenal have already moved on a number of high-earning players such as Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci, while Nicklas Bendtner is likely to depart sooner rather than later as he is holding talks with Budesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.

Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is a reported absentee from the clubs pre-season tour of Asia due to a back injury that may rule him out of the start of the campaign, while Spanish pair Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal have been given extra leave following Confederations Cup duty in Brazil.