Walcott catches the eye of the Ox
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks Theo Walcott has proven beyond any doubt that he is capable of taking on the role of Arsenal's assassin for the rest of the season.
Arsene Wenger had seemed unsure whether Walcott could function effectively as a striker but that theory has been blown out of the water over the festive period after the England international starred in all three games he started up front.
"He definitely has all the attributes to play up front," said Oxlade-Chamberlain of Walcott, who now has 14 goals for the Gunners this term.
"The goals are coming. He has proven he can do a really good job for us up there.
"For someone with his pace it's hard for anyone to defend against and when he gets the service he can always punish teams so he's doing really well."
After scoring against Reading and winning the decisive penalty against Wigan last week, Walcott stole the show as a lone hitman again on Saturday, bagging a stunning hat-trick in the Gunners' 7-3 demolition of Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.
Walcott - who is yet to sign a contract with the London club - put Arsenal ahead with a breakaway goal that brought Thierry Henry to his feet and then wrapped up the win with two more classy finishes. He also set up Olivier Giroud for both of the Frenchman's goals.
The Arsenal fans who spent a large portion of the last 18 months questioning Walcott's ability were instead urging Wenger to "sign him up" as the player saluted all four corners of the ground on an impromptu lap of honour.
Walcott turned down a new contract - reported to be worth £75,000 a week - in the summer and has failed to reach an agreement with the club ever since. Wenger and Walcott himself have both had to field answers on the issue all season, but Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks his fellow Southampton youth academy graduate has remained professional throughout the whole drama.
"Even with all the speculation that's going on, he's stuck to his work," Oxlade-Chamberlain said. "He's a great professional, a good mate and a good lad around the dressing room. We need him to keep (scoring goals) for as long as he can."