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Three-o Walcott hopes Newcastle destruction can help cement striker role

Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates with the match-ball after scoring a hat-trick in the 7-3 win over Newcastle. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates with the match-ball after scoring a hat-trick in the 7-3 win over Newcastle. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Saturday, December 29, 2012
8:32 PM

Theo Walcott hopes he can win a regular starting role up front after proving his worth with a stunning hat-trick in the 7-3 defeat of Newcastle this evening.

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Walcott, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, was in irresistible form tonight, book-ending the scoring as well as adding his side’s fourth as the Toon left the Emirates Stadium humiliated.

One of the sticking blocks in Walcott signing a new long-term deal with the Gunners is believed to stem around his desire to play a regular role up front instead of on the wing.

And while he insists he will do what is best for the team, he was pleased to show his talents in a forward role.

“I enjoy playing in whatever position but it was just telling the manager to give me the opportunities to play up front,” he told ESPN.

“I’m not saying I’m always going to play up front but it’s just showing what I can do but hopefully I’ve opened a few eyes and it’s just a different option.

“Hopefully, I can start to take it a bit more often now.”

Arsenal took a one-goal lead on three occasions through Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski but were pegged back on each occasion by two strikes from Ba sandwiched in-between Sylvain Marveaux’s tap in.

But after Walcott put the London side ahead once more, the Gunners ran riot in the final 10 minutes thanks to two goals from Olivier Giroud and a further strike from Walcott.

“It was just end-to-end and very open. When it’s open it plays into my hands to be honest,” Walcott added.

“We’re disappointed in the goals we conceded but to score seven, it doesn’t matter how we win. As long as we get the three points.

“We’ve got a game in hand. I don’t know what crisis everyone’s on about.”

It was Arsenal’s fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League win, which lifts them up to fifth, and midfielder Jack Wilshere insists they have not been stung by recent criticism.

“We just get on with it. We know we’ve got great players here and we showed it today,” he said.

“Theo was great and okay we conceded three and we’re not happy about that and we’ll look at that but to score seven in any game in the Premier League is a great achievement.”

Wenger was thrilled with Walcott’s performance, although the Frenchman hinted he is not yet ready to pick the 23-year-old in a regular striking berth.

“We cannot ask much more than three goals and the performance he gave today,” Wenger said.

“I said I’m convinced that he can play in there - he has qualities - and he can only improve the more he plays there.

“He can play in the other position on the left, right or through the middle and it is good because Giroud is basically a centre-forward only so I can play the two together.”

Wenger was also quick to hail Newcastle’s resilience, although he lamented his side’s slow start.

“It was not as comfortable as the score indicated,” he added. “We played against a good team. They were always a threat going forwards, they gave us many problems.

“I believe we started a bit nervous, not completely relaxed, and at half-time 1-1 was a fair result.

“Second half we were on the ball higher up and were much more dangerous but they always came back.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.