Saturday 21 April 2018

Hard work holds key to Gunners bid for glory: Walcott

Mark Fleming

the key feature of Arsenal's victory over Chelsea on Monday was not the clinical finishing nor the intricate passing, but the organised and disciplined way they restricted the champions to just one effort on target.

Theo Walcott earned the praise of manager Arsene Wenger for the excellence and intelligence of his goal-scoring display. The England winger, however, feels that the work Arsenal did without the ball was the cornerstone to the victory, which exploded the perception that Wenger's side fail to deliver against their biggest rivals.

Walcott said: "All the lads have been working so hard in training and the boss as well. Everyone's been talking about the defensive side of the game, when we haven't got the ball. When we've got the ball, we're fantastic, but when we don't it's a different story.

"Against Chelsea we showed how great we were off the ball. The whole team, even the players that came on, everyone got their duties right and it was just nice to see in an Arsenal team for a change.

"They've got some fantastic players, this Chelsea team, and we never switched off. We were just ready. The boss told everyone we needed to do our defensive duties right, we needed to show the fans and put 100pc in. Everyone was just buzzing"

The challenge according to Walcott is now to bring that level of defensive intensity to every single game, starting with today's journey to Wigan.

He added: "We can't (just) do it in one game, we need to do it in every game. It's difficult to do throughout the whole 90 minutes but against Chelsea the whole team had so much energy and we managed to do that."

Walcott is enjoying one of the best spells of his career, his goal against Chelsea taking his tally for the season to nine. His finish past Petr Cech was a fine strike, low into the bottom far corner of the Chelsea goal.

Walcott said that seeing David Beckham work hard in training when the former England captain trained with Arsenal for a spell last season was an object lesson that practice really does make perfect.

"I've been practising shooting every day in training," he said.

"It doesn't matter how old you are if you practise after training. I remember when David Beckham came to train with us, he still practised his free-kicks. I learned from that.


"I've been practising my crossing and finishing when I can after training, when they let me because I don't want to kill myself. It's just something I've worked on and hopefully it can continue because I've missed a lot of the season so far. I've got nine goals and I'm pleased with that and hopefully that can continue."

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, so influential in the victory over Chelsea, is banned from tonight's game, after he was booked in Monday's London derby, his fifth yellow card of the season.

Wenger's side have unwanted memories of their last trip to Wigan, at the end of April, when they were 2-0 up but allowed the home side to score three times in the last 10 minutes in a defeat that effectively ended their title hopes. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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