Monday 22 December 2014

We need to fight for Arsene Wegner, says Arsenal's Theo Walcott ahead of crunch North London derby

Jim van Wijk

Published 26/02/2013 | 15:55

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott feels it is about time Arsenal players paid back the faith of under-fire manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners boss has seen his position come under severe scrutiny this season after the squad laboured from one crisis to another, crashing out of both cup competitions to lower league opposition which was then followed by a comprehensive 3-1 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash.

While hopes of a first trophy since 2005 are now all but over once again, Arsenal could yet force their way back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League and with it at least salvage something from another campaign of frustration for the Emirates Stadium faithful.

Walcott maintains it is down to the players to deliver their potential - and they will have no better place to start than in a showdown against north-London rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane this Sunday.

Walcott said: "The boss has always had so much belief in me from a young age, but we haven't won anything for a long time now, so we want to pay him back by winning something.

"If we don't perform he always takes it back on himself, but at times it is not fair because we are the players that go out there and do it.

"He definitely let's us know when we are not performing, though, which is the right way to do it."  Walcott added: "Once the team wins the first trophy, you will start to see us coming back to where we should be.

"When your team is playing well it makes your job easier and when you are winning games it is fantastic to be a part of it. However, it is when things aren't going too well that you need to stand out and get your team back involved.

"We have got players in the dressing room who can create something out of nothing, and I want to be part of that backbone.

"You see it when we go a goal down, everyone thinks 'right, we need to step up here because it is not goo enough', but if we do that from the start we can beat absolutely anyone.

"I think we will get to a stage when we win games even when we haven't dominated.

"We are starting to get there and as soon as we hit that target, I am sure we are going to be flying."  Walcott, 23, finally ended speculation about his future when agreeing a new contract extension last month.

The England forward has added goals to his game this season, when he has been given more of a chance deployed in his preferred central striker role.

Walcott revealed he felt more mature in his approach now, no longer concerned with critics who argued there was no end product to his pacy attacks.

"The big thing this season is that I do not ever want the games to end," he said.

"I am really enjoying every second, I love performing in front of the crowd, for my team-mates as well, and if I make a mistake I know to forget about it because something else will come up, so I don't really think about mistakes too much.

"That's another side of it - not dwelling on something that's happened previously in the game.

"Also I am not thinking too much in front of goal, I am just doing what comes naturally to me, which is finishing and it is working so far."  Walcott, who is Arsenal's leading scorer with 18 goals this season - including two hat-tricks, added: "I feel like I can create opportunities, that even if I am not in the game for a while, I would be able to come up with something.

"I have learned more about the defensive side of the game and about formations over the years.

"I have also learned how to play with other players better, seeing what the strengths are of the players coming in and adapting to that." 

Press Association

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