Wenger defends Walcott from Arsenal contract critics

Arsene Wenger has spoken up in the defence of Theo Walcott after it was suggested that the Arsenal forward’s performances have dropped since he signed a new contract with the Gunners, the Daily Mirror has reported.

Walcott signed a contract extension at the Emirates Stadium in January and has not scored for the club since that same month – netting in the 2-2 at the Emirates against Liverpool. With Walcott striving to be fit to play West Bromwich Albion this weekend – having been missing since mid-March – Wenger has rejected claims Walcott is not putting the effort in now he has a bumper new contract.

I don’t believe that. If he didn’t play well and had not signed a contract, then people would say the opposite,” Wenger said, adding: “I don’t think that is linked, especially with the fact that he has signed a contract or not. Because you can say as well he is more secure, he can express himself.

The manager continued: “I don’t see any difference in attitude in training. He is a guy who loves football, who stays after training, works on his finishing. He was just a bit less decisive. He needs that fraction of a second to make the difference. He needs his pace.

Wenger added that he does feel Walcott’s performances in his last few games before injury were not quite up to scratch but laid the blame for that on fatigue, pointing to the fact that he suffered an injury shortly after while on international duty as evidence that Walcott was tiring.

Walcott scored four goals in eight games in January and has 18 to his name in the season as a whole, including two hat-tricks – the first coming against Reading in Arsenal’s 7-5 League Cup win, the second in late December in a 7-3 league win over Newcastle.

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