Theo Walcott hopes Turkish romp will boost Arsenal

23 August 2013 09:10

Theo Walcott believes Arsenal's midweek Champions League victory over Fenerbahce can help kick-start the troubled club's Premier League campaign.

England winger Walcott and his team-mates will aim to bounce back after the opening day home defeat to Aston Villa when they travel across London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The Villa loss triggered a wave of criticism directed towards Gunners boss Arsene Wenger from Arsenal supporters frustrated by his failure to strengthen his squad since the end of last season.

A succession of injuries to key players seemed to have further exposed the weaknesses in Wenger's squad, but an emphatic 3-0 win in Turkey on Wednesday moved the Gunners to within 90 minutes of a place in the Champions League group stage and provided a timely boost to morale.

"It was very important after such a disappointing start to the Premier League," Walcott said.

"There was a lot of pressure on us as well and we're happy we got that clean sheet, which was important.

"As players we don't take any notice of that criticism. We know the best person to listen to, and our best critic, is the manager.

"We knew the Villa game was very disappointing and we needed to bounce back from it.

"We work hard for each other and that's the most important thing - if everyone works hard for each other we can get the results.

"I think at the weekend that probably wasn't the case, and we knew how disappointing it was.

"You don't want to start a season like that but, like I said, that's out of the window now.

"We've forgotten about that and we're concentrating on Fulham. And if we perform like that, with that intensity, we can beat anyone."

Wenger has stepped up his efforts to bring in new players, although he now concedes he has no chance of signing Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.

Instead, Arsenal have been linked with Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria and Swansea duo Ashley Williams and Michu.

Wenger admits he is short on numbers at present, a situation not helped by the loss of French defender Laurent Koscielny to a one game suspension following his sending off against Villa.

Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain long term casualties, while Thomas Vermaelen is also some way off returning to fitness.

Wenger's side can expect a stern test against a Fulham side buoyed by their opening day victory at Sunderland.

In the week since that win, Cottagers manager Martin Jol has signed Scott Parker, the Football Writers' player of the year in 2011, and the former Tottenham midfielder is expected to make his debut this weekend.

Parker rejected the chance to be reunited with former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp at QPR in favour of a move that keeps the 32-year-old in the Premier League.

"It dragged on but I'm delighted to be here. Staying in the Premier League was important," Parker said.

"Fulham is a club I've always enjoyed playing (against). I'd like to see myself here for some time."

Parker could be joined in the starting line-up by on-loan striker Darren Bent, who was an unused substitute at the Stadium of Light last weekend.

Bent, 29, is attempting to resurrect his career after being frozen out at Aston Villa and will press for a place alongside Dimitar Berbatov.

Keeper David Stockdale is on standby to replace Maarten Stekelenburg, who is a doubt with a shoulder problem.

Source: AFP