Vito Mannone
Philippe Senderos

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Walcott Looking Forward To Playing With Sanchez

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott, who spent the majority of last season on the sidelines, has said that he is very much looking forward to playing along with the club’s new signing, Alexis Sanchez. After several years of playing catch-up with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City the transfer market, Arsenal have finally started spending money in the last two transfer windows. This helped the club in the trophy drought that started in 2005 with the FA Cup last season. They have managed to improve the squad even further after bringing in Sanchez from Barcelona for £ 30 million.

The Chilean star was a major reason behind his country reaching the last 16 of the World Cup and almost beating hosts Brazil. He is capable of playing anywhere across the front three, which suggests that he is likely to play along with Walcott upfront. Walcott has spoken about the club’s new signing for the first time and he says that Sanchez is a player who will improve the team massively. Following the signing, Arsenal will be regarded as proper title contenders even before the start of the season. Last season, their title challenge withered away during March due to the lack of strength in depth.

Walcott failed to make it to the World Cup yet again due to injury. “Sánchez is a world-class player and I enjoyed watching him play for Barcelona and for Chile at the World Cup. He’s still very young as well and he is going to show so much pace and power, which we lacked a bit last year. With me and him on the flanks, a lot of teams won’t be looking forward to playing Arsenal this year. It is great to learn from these players, and I cannot wait to play alongside him. I am really looking forward to it,” said Walcott.

Walcotts Recovery Is On Track

Theo Walcott’s recovery seems to be on track. The 25-year old forward is all set to be back for his team Arsenal at the start of the 2014-15 Season.

Walcott had got injured severely while representing the Gunners in a FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this year. Not only did that injury rule him out of the remaining part of the Premier League, it also ensured that he wouldn’t feature for the Three Lions in the FIFA World Cup 2014.

Before that injury, Walcott was being considered to be one of the certainties in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

Arsenal missed Walcott a lot in the Premier League after that. They clearly looked hampered by the exit of a world class player and their performance kept going down. From being the top contender to win the title, they went to a position where they started struggling for a Champions League place.
The Gunners eventually got that Champions League place though as they finished the season at the 4th position in the table. They even won the FA Cup, but, there is no doubt that if Walcott had not got injured at that crucial juncture; the season would have turned out to be so much better for them.

Walcott, had he been fit, might have Changed England’s fortunes as well in the ongoing FIFA World Cup. The Three Lions are struggling big time in Brazil at the moment. They are clearly missing somebody in peak form upfront.

Walcott, yesterday, uploaded a video of him putting in hard yards in the gym on a social networking site.
The caption of that picture was, “Trained well with Jake, my friend.”

Walcott should be available for Arsenal for their first game next season.

Wengar Had To Work Hard

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger had to work hard in order to lift the FA Cup as they defeated Hull City in a dramatic match which saw both teams scoring twice which forced the encounter to go into added time and a late goal from Aaron Ramsey gave his side the precious triumph.

Wenger and Arsenal were going through a significantly long period of time that saw them being unable of securing any major piece of silverware in over 7 years but this came to an end and Wenger revealed just how important it was for him and his players on winning the FA Cup.

"It was more important today than all the others. Twice we did the double in 1998 and 2002; we had already won a trophy so we were not under the pressure we were today. I've won it now five times, it's not too bad. I'm in good company with Ferguson." Wenger said.

The match picked off in a disastrous fashion for Arsenal as they fell behind 2-0 during the opening 8 minutes of the encounter but goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny obliged the game to continue rolling on for 30 more minutes until Ramsey sealed it for Arsenal.

"We made a demonstration of how to respond to being 2-0 down, and a demonstration of how not to start a Cup final. I was shocked. We were a bit hesitant and you wonder if the shock would be too hard, but this team has a special spirit and a special togetherness to respond." Wenger continued speaking after winning the crucial match.

Arsenal spent the majority of the Premier League season in pole position but as the campaign progressed on, their charge for the top spot started to fade and disappear. Wenger is grateful that the team managed to hold on to the 4th spot but he is ecstatic about adding another trophy to his cabinet.

WALCOTT BLOW

When Theo Walcott had got injured and had been sidelined for the rest of the season at the start of this year, very few people would have thought that it would take the sting out of Arsenal. Yes, it was believed to be a big blow, but, not a season changing blow, that’s for sure, but, it did have a big impact on the performances of the Gunners. They completely lost their way.

The thing with Walcott is that he is quite versatile. He can play on the wings and also, as a main striker and his speed is as good as anybody else in the world. But, the same can’t be said about the other Arsenal strikers. Let’s talk about Olivier Giroud which has been playing upfront regularly of late for the Gunners. He is someone who is lot slower than Walcott. Yes, he has a good height and thus, he is a threat in air, but, on the ground, he is not that efficient.

And, unfortunately, after that Walcott blow, Arsenal’s main weapon Mesut Ozil has lost his rhythm too. He was going great guns in the first half of the season, but, in this half, he hasn’t been able to dominate and that has made the team miss Walcott even more.

When 2014 started, Arsenal was one of the top contenders to lift the league trophy, but, within 4 months, they are out of the race. The best they can do from here is to qualify for the Champions League. Even that is looking difficult at the moment.

People can blame the boss Arsene Wenger here as well. They can say that he should have had another player ready on the bench for somebody like Walcott, but, the reality is that it’s not easy to replace an impact player.

TROPHYLESS AGAIN?

It has been over 6 years since Arsene Wenger has managed to secure any major titles with Arsenal and because of his lack of silverware, the French tactician is under a lot of criticism. Some fans even want him out of the club as they don’t have faith in him.

Wenger endured his 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal a few weeks ago when they played against Chelsea and suffered a disappointing 6-0 defeat against the team of Jose Mourinho.

Despite sustaining such a devastating result and with the Premier League title appearing to be out of the reach of Arsenal for another year, Theo Walcott considers Wenger to be one of the best managers around as he only had praise when talking about the French coach.

"To get that many games at such a high level and on a consistent basis, with the amount of players he's worked with shows what a true great manager he is. He has been in the game for such a long time. He knows it inside out. I can't see anyone getting near to it at that consistent level."

"The manager has never given up and plays the right football and if you look at the club he makes sure the club balances the books," Walcott told BT Sport in an interview to be aired before today's game. That is why it is such a great club because everything is right. It is just that final hurdle which could definitely happen this season."

"He's given the opportunity for young players to develop and play. I wouldn't change anything for the world. The manager was a massive thing. I went to have a first meeting with him, he was pointing things out to me and I was only 16 at the time and I was a bit overwhelmed to be sat next to the boss’’. Walcott said.

GREAT FUTURE

Arsene Wenger claimed that despite having to cope the rest of the season without Theo Walcott, the long-term future of the player is very positive and suggested his fans not to expect him to be ready for the 2014 World Cup as his injury is already confirmed to leave him out of action for the worldwide event.

"The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let's not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup, that is not possible but overall his long-term future is very positive," Wenger said to the Arsenal Player. "It is about being fit for next season now."

Arsenal is going through one of their best seasons in recent times as they are at the top of the Premier League along with Manchester City and Chelsea but Arsenal’s squad has been suffering from a number of injuries that has seen some of their players being unable to play including Thomas Vermaelen who was out with a knee injury, Mikel Arteta who is struggling with a calf problem and Aaron Ramsey.

Even with all of these injuries, Wenger still remains optimistic that he has enough quality and talent on his squad to keep Arsenal fighting at the top of the league.

"We have fantastic players in midfield and it always allows us to keep what we call the 'engine' of the team fresh." Wenger stated as he praised his team.

Theo Walcott sustained the season ending injury during Arsenal’s 2-0 triumph against Tottenham back in January. Just as the English player was being removed from the pitch on a stretcher he displayed gestures to the Tottenham which caused them on launching coins and plastic bottles at Walcott and now the police are searching for 3 men that initiated the attacks.

BACK FROM INJURY

Theo Walcott came back from an injury not too long ago and ever since completing his recovery, the English winger is coming back into the pitch in full force as he scored twice against West Ham United and in Arsenal’s match against Newcastle United, Walcott provided the assist for the only goal of the match as the team guided by Arsene Wenger snatched all 3 points.

When Walcott was asked if he thought about the 2014 World Cup during his recovery, he insisted in saying that all he was thinking about was becoming fit and helping Arsenal in their journey of the Premier League and the Champions League.

The former Southampton player said: “I was not worried about the World Cup when I was out injured, not at all’’.
“I wasn’t ¬thinking about the World Cup or ¬anything. The ¬priority was to get fit.I am happy to be back ¬scoring goals and happy to be playing in this team, which is top of the Premier League. If I were not happy, something would be wrong.”

“I do not want to be looking too far ahead. Maybe when the World Cup took place in South Africa in 2010, maybe I was looking ahead to that. But right now my focus is on the Premier League and the Champions League. The games are coming thick and fast’’.

Despite having a final scoreboard of 0-0 against Chelsea, Walcott said he was happy with the result considering the fact that they had suffered from a shocking 6-3 defeat against Manchester City earlier in the season.

“But after losing 6-3 against Manchester City last week, it was important to have a very good defensive performance. When you concede six after being a very good defensive team this season, it’s very hard to come back from that. You need to react in the right way. We did that against Chelsea.” Walcott added.

WALCOTT OUT

Theo Walcott will not be able to feature for Arsenal for the next couple of weeks as he is still trying to recover completely from the surgery that he had gone through last month.

The English forward had started light training recently and he was expected to be one of the substitutes in the upcoming Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund, but, that wasn’t the case to be. Yesterday, he felt the pain in his abdomen again and the medical team decided that he needed to be on the sidelines for a bit more time.

Talking to the reporters about Walcott’s fitness yesterday, the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said, “Theo felt a bit of pain today and he has been ruled out for the next few games. He needs at least 15 more days to be able to return.”
After the game against Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal has to play a Premier League game against Crystal palace and then, they will face Chelsea in a Capital One Cup game. Walcott will not make appearance in either of those two games. He has a slight chance of making it to the squad for the game against Liverpool which will take place on 2nd of November.

Because of his abdominal surgery, Walcott hadn’t featured for England in the World Cup qualifying games recently. On his place, Andros Townsend got the opportunity and he grabbed it with both hands. Now, when Walcott returns, he will have to compete with this youngster for a place in the starting line up.

England has to play a couple of friendly matches against Chile and Germany respectively next month and Walcott is expected to be named in the squad for those two games. Both those games will be organized at the Wembley Stadium.

Walcott says contract standoff was difficult

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has revealed the last three weeks of his contract wrangle with the club last season were easily the most stressful as well as pressurized moment of his life.

The winger cum striker had a very productive season last term for the Gunners, scoring 21 goals in all competitions for the club and finishing as the club’s top scorer as well and it was arguably the most successful season he has had in North London since his move to the club from Southampton.

And the England international winger managed to achieve that feat in spite an ongoing contract dispute with the club with the club reportedly being close to selling the player after he refused to put pen to paper on a new and improved contract with the club worth around £ 75,000 per week. The player and his agent were holding out for a contract worth over £ 100,000.

However, after months of speculation regarding his future at the Emirates Stadium, Theo Walcott signed a new contract worth upwards of £ 90,000 a week. And speaking of last season, the player admitted that it was arguably his best season in an Arsenal shirt as he finished as the club’s top scorer and added that not many people would have considered it at the start of the season.

But he mentioned that he had always known he could be a proven goal scorer and it is a great feeling when things fall in place and added that not only his goal scoring, he was happy with his overall form as he provided plenty of assists as well.

However, Theo Walcott did mention that the weeks of contract standoff with the club was something that he doesn’t want to happen again as he was left co completely stressed out.

ENGLAND WILL MAKE IT

Theo Walcott has assured the English fans that the Three Lions will eventually be able to make it to the World Cup 2014 finals which will take place in Brazil.

England’s qualifying group is H. They are at no. 2 in the points table of that group. They have played 6 matches and secured 12 points which is 2 less than the points tally of the table toppers Montenegro.

Only one team from the group will make it to the finals. So, the Three Lions need to raise the standard of their performance in their remaining 4 World Cup qualifying games.

England will play 3 out of those 4 games in front of their home crowd. So, that’s a positive for them.

When asked about England’s World Cup qualification chances, Walcott said, “I think we will eventually make it. We still have 4 games left and if we live up to our potential in those games, qualification shouldn’t be a problem.”
“I don’t think any team in the group is better than us. We should have been at the top of the table by now, but, unfortunately, things didn’t go according to the plan in a few games and we are at no. 2 at the moment. But, we will be at the top soon.”

When asked if playing in front of the home crowd puts extra pressure on the team, Walcott said, “At this level, there is pressure all the time and you have to deal with it. Only then you are going to be a successful player.”

England will play its next World Cup qualifying match against Moldova on 6th of September at the Wembley Stadium, but, before that match, they have to play three friendly games against Republic of Ireland, Brazil and Scotland respectively.