Walcott happy to focus on Gunners

25 November 2009 06:07
Wenger reacted angrily early in the week when questioned about players such as Walcott needing to maintain form and fitness ahead of next year's tournament in South Africa, with the 20-year-old England international agreeing with his club manager that the immediate focus should be on Arsenal's fortunes in the Premier League and Champions League.

International football will be the least of Arsenal's concerns this weekend when Chelsea arrive at the Emirates Stadium, particularly after the defeat to Sunderland last Saturday, with defender Mikael Silvestre questioning the commitment of his team-mates at the Stadium of Light.

"You want to play well for your country and the summer (at the World Cup) will come if you have a great season," said Walcott, who came on during the Champions League win over Standard Liege for his second substitute appearance since recovering from an injury to his right knee.

"The best way is just to take every game as it comes and not look into the future because you never know what is going to happen. You could have a great season, get injured at the end of it and miss out. So I am just going to concentrate on every single game until the end of the season and see where it takes me.

"I want to get back in the starting line-up for Arsenal and hopefully try and help us to go far in the Premier League. We have a got a great bunch of lads and I want to be part of the starting line-up. I just want to get back playing for Arsenal, that is the best way."

While a straightforward victory against Standard sealed a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, facing Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders is seen as the real test if Arsenal have recovered from the Sunderland defeat.

Kieran Gibbs' fractured foot means Wenger must choose between Armand Traore and Silvestre at left-back, or push Emmanuel Eboue back into defence and onto an unfamiliar flank.

The good news is that William Gallas' head and ankle injuries are unlikely to rule him out of facing his former club.

In attack, Robin van Persie's injury means Wenger will need to find a striker for the focal point of his front three, with Walcott playing there earlier in his career.

"It is a shame with Robin because he has done such a tremendous job for us this year," Walcott said. "We have got great strikers who can come in for him and I am one of a bunch of strikers who can do that job.

"I would love to play upfront, it was my position, but at this club I'll play anywhere. I played up front at Southampton and it has been quite a while."

Walcott admitted he was surprised to hear about his manager's World Cup rant on the eve of the Standard victory, although he explained: "He is a very passionate person. He loves his job and he is showing his passion for the game and how well he wants us to do this year.

"It is very surprising but the boss is very passionate and he just wants to show everyone that he is not so quiet."

Wenger was also blunt about his team's performance at Sunderland, with Silvestre outlining the root of the problems.

"I think at Sunderland we lacked a little bit of commitment," the French defender said.

"You drop one per cent or two per cent and that's it, you get punished. Against Standard we wanted to rectify this and make sure we got the victory."

Wenger's frustration with Walcott's fitness can be traced back to the summer when he questioned his player's inclusion in the England Under-21 squad for the European Championship finals in Sweden, with fears of burn-out if he played continually for a year.

"It is not just me. He shows tremendous respect for all the players and we show respect for him. He is always behind us and is looking after us," Walcott said.

"He has brought us some brilliant players in the years he has been here and we have got a great bunch here. He is trying to stick us all together and everything stays in the dressing room.

"You want to play every game but I have got the best manager behind me and he will rest me when called upon. Obviously when you are playing really well he won't take you out of the team. That is the good thing at this club - if you are playing well at this club you are not going to be taken out of the team so I will see where it takes me."

Source: Team_Talk