Wednesday 18 July 2018

Walcott: Gunners are firing

Theo Walcott believes Arsenal are hitting top form at an ideal time
Theo Walcott believes Arsenal are hitting top form at an ideal time

Theo Walcott believes Arsenal's on-form players are all giving manager Arsene Wenger a welcome selection headache as they look to end the season in style.

The Gunners thumped Aston Villa 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday to continue their improvement with a seventh win in the last eight matches taking them level with fourth-placed Southampton and just a point behind Manchester United.

Arsenal were without leading scorer Alexis Sanchez because of a hamstring problem, but the Chile forward could return for next Saturday's lunchtime north-London derby at Tottenham.

Walcott - who along with Mesut Ozil netted his second goal in as many appearances having also been on target in the FA Cup win at Brighton - is confident the Gunners now have the strength in depth to mount a sustained challenge for honours.

"We have got the likes of myself and Mesut (Ozil) coming back from injury and a few others who are still out, but will come back soon - Jack (Wilshere), Danny (Welbeck), Alexis (Sanchez) as well - so it is like new players coming in," Walcott said in the London Evening Standard.

"Alexis will be back soon - next week hopefully - and so the squad is strong.

"When everyone is fit, it is a headache for the manager, but it is a good headache when you have competition for places. It makes people perform that little bit more."

Walcott revealed Wenger had encouraged Arsenal to be positive from the start, an aggressive policy which was rewarded against Villa, who found themselves a goal down inside eight minutes before recovering ahead of a devastating second-half onslaught by the hosts.

"That has been the message from the manager to us players - that we need to start well," the England international added in an interview with Arsenal Player.

"We have been doing that in the last four, five or six games and the results will go our way when we are 100 per cent at it.

"We have continued to do that and you could see at the end that we wanted to score more goals. That's the sign of a confident team."

Wenger does not expect to make any further signings on deadline day, having already brought in Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal and promising 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw.

Villa last week completed a loan deal for Manchester City midfielder Scott Sinclair, who made his debut as a second-half substitute when the match was already beyond the visitors.

Manager Paul Lambert admits his squad could do with a couple of extra bodies, as their Premier League goal-drought extended past 600 minutes.

The challenge does not get any easier, with leaders Chelsea at Villa Park this weekend.

"That is the nature of the Premier League. Every match you play is really big and really tough," Lambert said.

"Chelsea are another really good side, a side who are going for the title, but it is a game you try and win."

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