Theo Walcott wants to stay with 'best Arsenal squad I have been involved in'

The England international is targeting the Premier League title this season

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The Independent Football

Despite Arsène Wenger’s refusal to give any public assurances about Theo Walcott’s future, the Arsenal forward is anxious that a deal is done before his contract runs out in 11 months’ time.

The Arsenal manager would not elaborate when pressed, after Saturday’s Barclays Asia Trophy final, whether he was optimistic that Walcott would sign a new contract. The 26-year-old forward, however, appeared more confident.

Speaking after Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Everton in Singapore, in which he scored the opening goal, Walcott said: “My agent has talked to the club. I am just letting them crack on with things and I will continue playing football. If it happens, it happens. We will just play the waiting game and see what happens but I am sure it won’t be long.”

If, as seems likely, there is no quick agreement, Walcott says he is happy to begin his 10th season at the Emirates Stadium, knowing that by the time Arsenal commence their defence of the FA Cup in January he will be able to speak to other clubs.

“I won’t let that delay affect the way I am playing,” he said. “I can’t let that affect me. The squad is one of the best I have been involved in. I want to be part of that. We’ve got to keep this group of players together. Successful teams stay together for a long time and this team can be very successful. We have won two FA Cups now. The next big step is to be challenging for the Premier League.”

The title, he claimed, would have been Arsenal’s last season had they shown the same form in the first half of the campaign as they did in the latter half. “But,” he added, “that’s the word you don’t want to be using in sport: ‘if’. We need to make sure we can do it from the start.

“We have obviously spent the money; the stadium is a fortress now, I believe. We are playing great football, winning games and not conceding as many as in the past, and we know we’re going to score goals.”

Many at Arsenal said much the same a year ago only to make the kind of start that meant any hope of the title had disappeared by October. Walcott, however, argued this pre-season felt different. The 4-0 win over Aston Villa in this year’s FA Cup final was a world away from last year’s desperate 3-2 scramble against Hull. “We have learnt not to panic in games,” Walcott said. “That’s the lesson the manager has put in our heads.”