Walcott: We owe it to Wenger to lift our game


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The Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has said that the team owed their manager, Arsène Wenger, a big performance to get their Premier League campaign back on track. Arsenal thumped Blackburn 7-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday – their first league win of 2012 closing the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to three points.

Walcott said it was time the Arsenal players got it right after a spell in which they lost three successive league games and missed several chances in a stalemate at Bolton Wanderers. "The boss always takes a lot of stick from everyone criticising him, but us players need to look up to him because he's been taking it all," the England international said. "We are the ones who go out there and put out the performances and sometimes they have not been good enough."

Walcott added: "There are so many world-class players in the dressing room, so it is disappointing when we come back from Bolton with a 0-0 draw where we had a lot of chances. It has just been one of those frustrating seasons. Hopefully a lot of those frustrations came out against Blackburn, where everybody stood up for themselves."

The performances of 18-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain have led to calls for him to be fast-tracked into the senior England side for the upcoming friendly against Holland, although the former Southampton trainee is wary of things moving too quickly.

Walcott, who was a controversial selection for the 2006 World Cup when still a teenager, has often found himself criticised for a lack of end product – something against which his captain Van Persie launched a fierce defence at the weekend. The 22-year-old, however, sees the bigger picture.

He said: "One of my main jobs as a winger is to get assists. The goals are a secondary thing. Some of them against Blackburn were just tap-ins so it was like a goal really. I hope it made Robin's job easy."

Wenger did not make any major moves in the January transfer window, reflecting in an interview with a Belgian newspaper the importance of securing a "profit of between £15m and £20m" every season, and that the purpose of a coach is "to always buy at a price he sees fit".

Arsenal's spending power is not what it once was, and has caused the club to look for additional commercial revenue streams. Last summer the club broke with tradition and embarked upon a commercially successful tour to the Far East. They are expected to follow a similar schedule in 2012, with games in Hong Kong, Beijing and Seoul as well as a trip to Nigeria said to be on the agenda.