English Premiership

Theo central to Gunners plans

2015-05-25 09:03
Theo Walcott (AFP)

London - Arsene Wenger expects hat-trick hero Theo Walcott to play more of a central role for Arsenal next season provided that fitness issues and contract negotiations are finally resolved.

Walcott scored three times in the opening 37 minutes as the Gunners rounded off their Premier League campaign with a 4-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The 26-year-old England winger has long expressed a desire to play more often in attack, rather than along the flanks.

But his hopes of doing so were hampered by a serious knee injury sustained in January 2014 which sidelined him for 10 months and affected his form as he slowly returned to full fitness this term.

However, following his virtuoso display against West Brom, Wenger explained that Walcott has the necessary attributes to rival Olivier Giroud as the spearhead of the Gunners' attack in the future.

"I've always said that Theo can play in the middle because he has good movement and good finishing. And he did that well today," Wenger said.

"He's a good scorer but he has been out for nearly a year. And, in a football, that's a long, long time to be back at your best, to regain your sharpness and confidence.

"Theo is the right age - 26 years old is a good age for a footballer. I just wish he stays free of injuries now. You have to be consistently present to express your full potential."

Walcott is now entering the final year of a three-and-a-half-year £100,000-a-week contract but having reached an impasse in recent weeks, Wenger confirmed that the club have started discussions with his representatives about a new deal.

"Without a hat-trick, with a hat-trick, we want him to stay. We are in negotiations now," Wenger said.

"We're starting to speak with his agent and that was before his hat-trick"

Wenger, who said he has no fresh injury worries ahead of the FA Cup final against Aston Villa on Saturday, felt his side would have given champions Chelsea a harder challenge for the Premier League title had it not been for their slow start in August and September.

Next season, he feels they will close the gap, especially as finishing third means they won't have to negotiate a two-legged Champion League playoff in August.

"We can prepare well because we don't have a qualifier for the Champions League now. That's a massive thing as having to play away between two league game at the start of the season is never easy," Wenger said.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
31 October 2016
Stoke City v Swansea City, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Will Jose Mourinho lead Manchester United to the English Premiership title in 2016/17?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.