LONDON – Arsene Wenger insists that he can convince Theo Walcott to stay at Arsenal after the England star’s scintillating hat trick destroyed Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners’ 7-3 rout of Newcastle made it four successive victories since being dumped out of the League Cup by Bradford City.
Central to it all was Walcott’s superb display in the striker’s role he covets, as the 23-year-old opened the scoring in the first half before two brilliant finishes wrapped up the points for the north London side.
The former Southampton star has still to sign a new deal to keep him at the Emirates beyond the end of this season despite being offered improved terms.
But Wenger was clearly impressed by Walcott’s display and the Frenchman is confident that an agreement will be reached.
“He’s done very well and it just typifies what I think he can do,” Wenger said.
“He can play through the middle, I’m convinced of that, and he can only get stronger in there. I believe he has become a good finisher. He has learned a lot because he is an intelligent player and because he is intelligent he will continue to improve.”
He added: “The intensity of my desire (for him to stay) is exactly the same as it was before the game. My desire is to extend his contract and I think he belongs here. Hopefully we can do it. I think he loves the club and the club loves him and the reciprocity in love is the most difficult to find.”
Walcott dazzled from start to finish in an entertaining match that once again highlighted the two contrasting sides to Arsenal’s season.