Walcott says Arsenal contract 'will be sorted' and he's shown Wenger his striking potential
23:09 GMT, 29 December 2012
Theo Walcott turned up the pressure on Arsenal in his ongoing contract negotiations with a stunning hat-trick in an extraordinary win over Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.
Walcott, whose representatives are due to meet Arsenal’s chief negotiator, Dick Law, in the coming days, took his goal tally for the season to 14 in a frenzied second half which saw eight goals scored.
The 23-year-old England forward continues to thrive in the central striker’s role he covets and has made a major part of his contract negotiations.
Sign him up: Arsene Wenger is hoping Theo Walcott will commit his future to Arsenal
Walcott said: ‘Talks are ongoing and I
am sure something will be sorted. I’ve been saying that I want to play
up front and I am showing the manager what I can do. I believe I will be
a striker and it’s about taking the opportunity when I get it.
‘I enjoy playing in whatever position but it was just telling the manager to give me the opportunities to play up front.
‘I’m not saying I’m always going to
play there but it’s just showing what I can do. Hopefully, I’ve opened a
few eyes and it’s provided a different option.’
With just six months left on his
current deal and Walcott free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a
foreign club on New Year’s Day, Arsenal will be expected to fix a firm
date for talks and to increase the 75,000-a-week offer that is on the
Walcott departed the Emirates Stadium
yesterday with the match-ball held above his head and the crowd chanting
‘Sign him up’. After his side moved into fifth place in the Barclays
Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reiterated his desire to
keep the in-form forward at the club.
‘I think he loves the club and the club love him and reciprocity in love is the most difficult thing to find,’ said Wenger.
‘The intensity of my desire is exactly
the same as before the game. My desire is to extend the contract and I
think that he belongs here and, hopefully, we can do it.
‘Commitment to a club is a long-term
process. I don’t think it should depend on one game. If he had a
disastrous game today, it would not have altered my determination to
extend his contract and to sign him. That does not depend on one game.’
The most positive sign is that Wenger
has now trusted Walcott in the central striking role, something the
London-born player was keen to establish before he confirmed his
continued commitment to the club.
Walcott has benefitted from
practising alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who is currently
training with Arsenal and is expected to sign a short-term loan deal
from the New York Red Bulls next month.
Walcott said: ‘I’ve learned a lot
from Thierry and just to have him around in training is great. You
learn from the best. He showed great qualities on loan here last season
so, hopefully, that can be sorted out.’
It must be love: The Arsenal manager was impressed with Walcott's performance against Newcastle
It was Arsenal's fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League win, which lifts them up to fifth, and midfielder Jack Wilshere insists they have not been stung by recent criticism.
'We just get on with it. We know we've got great players here and we showed it today,' he said.
'Theo was great and okay we conceded three and we're not happy about that and we'll look at that but to score seven in any game in the Premier League is a great achievement.'
Wenger was also quick to hail Newcastle's resilience, although he lamented his side's slow start.
'It was not as comfortable as the score indicated,' he added. 'We played against a good team. They were always a threat going forwards, they gave us many problems.
'I believe we started a bit nervous, not completely relaxed, and at half-time 1-1 was a fair result.
'Second half we were on the ball higher up and were much more dangerous but they always came back.'
Options: Wenger also likes to pick Olivier Giroud (right) through the middle
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admitted his side had no energy left in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Despite scoring three goals apiece away at Manchester United on Boxing Day and today at the Emirates Stadium, Pardew's side have come away empty-handed on both occasions.
And the former West Ham and Charlton boss is aware some of his side's defending has been unacceptable.
'The last 15-20 minutes was a fresh team against a tired team and perhaps a bit of inexperience on our bench resulted in the scoreline,' he said.
'We're just so disappointed that we didn't get something out of it before then.
'The goals we conceded before then were not, not good and that's been our problem.
'For 70 minutes it was pretty tight, I thought we were giving a good account of ourselves but their freshness and the brightness towards the end of the game was just too much for us and we couldn't cope.
'The game really hurt us today but we know at the back we need to do better.'