Vito Mannone
Philippe Senderos

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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.

BAYERN NOT COMPLACENT

The German international Thomas Müller has said that the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger should not take the German opposition Bayern Munich lightly in the two sides face each other in the last 16 stage of the Champions League.

Bayern Munich have already managed a convincing 3-1 win in the first leg, and they are the favourites to progress to the next round. Even though Wenger has stated that the task to overcome Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena is almost impossible, he is expected to rest a number of key players like Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott. Hence, there has been suggestions that Wenger is taking the game lightly.

Müller, who scored in the first match between the two teams, has said that Wenger will be making a big mistake by not taking them seriously. He has said that Bayern will not give Arsenal any mercy in the match. After opening 20 point advantage in the league, Bayern are expected to shift their focus to the Champions League. They have finished as the finalists in the competition on two times in the last three years. Müller has said that him and his teammates are desperate to finally lift the trophy after coming so close in recent years.

“I don’t have any worries we might take the match too lightly. We will step on the gas. Even if something goes wrong in the match, we should be able to pick ourselves up,” said the German international. "They could have won 4-0, they had the chances, so it shows they are a strong team and capable of making up the gap if they have to. I respect Arsène Wenger very much. He is a top manager and Arsenal are a fighting team,” said the Bayern Munich manager Heynckes ahead of the match.

WENGER HAILS THEO

The manager of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, has hailed Theo Walcott for his brilliant form in the recent times and has said that he wants the English striker to keep playing for the Gunners for many more years. Wenger also said that the contract disputes between Walcott and Arsenal management have almost been sorted out and Walcott is set to sign a new deal.

When asked about Walcott’s brilliant form in recent times, Wenger said, “He has been in great nick of late. He is one of those guys who don’t get affected by the issues outside the field. Even when there were contract disputes, I didn’t see any difference in him while training or even during the matches. He just looked fine.”

“Some people can’t play well when they struggle with personal problems. But, Walcott is not one of them. When he goes on to the field, he just puts his personal issues behind and gives his 100%. This is an incredible quality to have.”
“He has matured as a player over the years. If he had been in the same scenario three years back, he might have reacted differently. But, now, he has got more composed. Even on the field, you can notice that. He doesn’t get carried away now and remains calm most of the time.”

“But, I think he still has to work on a few aspects of his game and he has got enough time to do that. He is only 23 years of age and many players begin their career at this age. If he keeps working hard, he can become one of the greats in the game.”

When asked if the contract issues with Walcott have been sorted out, Wenger said, “Yes, the dispute has almost been resolved. It has been carrying on since quite a while, but, things are going in the right direction now and hopefully, Walcott would sign a new contract pretty soon.”

WENGER WILL REPLACE WALCOTT

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the situation of the star midfielder Theo Walcott, Arsene Wenger has come out by saying that even if Theo Walcott leaves the club in the January transfer window, the club will be looking to replace him with another big-name.

He has also said that there is every chance that they could also create a new start as well. The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has seen a number of big players leave the club over the last few seasons. Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Robin van Persie are some of the players who have decided to go for pastures new.

This is partly down to the inability of Arsenal to win trophies, while they are also unable to compete with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Chelsea in terms of wages. The Arsenal manager has been criticised heavily in recent seasons for his inability to guide Arsenal to a major trophy. There is a feeling amongst Arsenal fans that the club is more focused on the financial and business aspect of things rather than the playing stuff. Theo Walcott's contract comes to an end this season and there has been no progress made into tying the player on a long-term deal.

"You think I'm not fed up? I want them to stay. He [Walcott] was fantastic last year in this game. He will certainly be again. Its always important to keep your best players. If that should happen we'll replace him with someone - another big name. Or make another big name. I have discussions every day with Theo Walcott, but not every day about his contract - his agents do that," said Arsene Wenger regarding the situation surrounding Walcott. The player was signed from Southampton for £ 12 million back in 2006.

WALCOTT NETS TWICE

Arsenal has defeated Coventry City by a huge margin of 6-1 in a Capital One Cup encounter played at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday. Theo Walcott was the hero of Arsenal’s victory. The English striker scored two goals for his team.

Earlier, Arsene Wenger made some changes in the starting line up for this match. Some youngsters were given the opportunity including Nico Yennaris and Francis Coquelin.

The stadium was jam packed with Arsenal supporters as expected. More than 58,000 people came to watch the match and they would have enjoyed every single bit of it. Their team absolutely demolished Coventry City. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 39th minute. The goal was set up by Coquelin, but, when Giroud got the ball, there was still a lot of work to be done. But, he gave it a brilliant finish with a left footed strike. The goalkeeper was advancing to stop the ball, but, he was easily beaten by that brilliant strike from Giroud. At the half time break, the score was 1-0.

But, in the second half, Arsene Wenger’s boys were on fire. Arsenal’s lead was doubled in the 57th minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain blasted the ball into the net from a distance of 25 yards.

The score became 3-0 in the 63rd minute when Andrey Arshavin capitalized on an aerial pass from Giroud and just dabbed it past Murphy to give Coventry the third blow.

Just after 10 minutes, Walcott scored his first goal in the match. It was a single handed effort by the Englishman. He entered the penalty box after getting rid of two Coventry players and then flicked the ball into the far corner of the net to make the score 4-0.

Coventry restored some pride with Callum Ball’s goal in the 78th minute. He capitalized on Baker’s cross and put the ball into the goal post to give the Coventry supporters something to cheer about.

Two goals were still to come in the match. Ignasi Miquel got into the act with a wonderful header and then, Walcott wrapped up the game with a last minute goal.

Arsenal will play its next match against Chelsea on 29th of September at the Emirates Stadium.

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