by Lewis Ambrose
Theo Walcott netted Arsenal’s only goal in a 1-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg to clinch the Emirates Cup, but the forward is yet to sign a new deal.
Walcott’s contract with Arsenal is up at the end of the coming season but very strong rumours have suggested he is on the verge of signing a new four year contract to remain in north London.
Arsenal struggled for much of the first half on Sunday but Walcott constantly looked a threat. His final touch or attempt finish was not quite good enough but he looked dangerous playing in the central role that he staked a claim for at the end of last season. After the break he moved wider and came inside to score the only goal of the game, coolly pushing the ball beyond Diego Benaglio.
The Emirates Cup was won and Arsène Wenger was asked once more about Walcott’s current situation: is there a new contract?
“Not yet. But we are getting closer and closer and hopefully we can finalise it very soon,” said the Arsenal manager.
Last season saw Arsenal score 12 goals fewer than Manchester City last season and were more than 30 goals behind just a year earlier; Wenger has now said he wants his team to score more in the coming campaign but they can come from current squad members.
Rather tellingly Walcott, who only started four Premier League games, was Arsenal’s fifth top scorer in the league last season with five goals. Those goals came at a rate of one every 88.4 minutes: when Theo Walcott plays, he invariably scores and getting him into the team more often would bring Arsenal more goals.
“I’ve always said he’s a goalscorer,” Wenger said on Sunday. “He has the movement, he has the timing of the finishing, the speed.
“When he gets in these positions he can finish well. Yesterday when he came on he nearly scored, today he scored. That shows he will score goals.”
Playing across the frontline Walcott struggles to hold the ball up but can stretch defences in a way that Olivier Giroud can’t.
“He has his own way. He’s not what you would call the aggressive striker, he’s the mobile striker,” Wenger said. “He understands well, he anticipates quickly and, linked with his speed of execution, it makes him always dangerous.”
Arsenal need to get Walcott tied down and then use him more this season. It seems like the agreement between club and player is inching ever closer.