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Walcott is invaluable says Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

18 Dec 2012 16:17:30

Walcott is invaluable says Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Captain Thomas Vermaelen feels Theo Walcott is invaluable to Arsenal - but accepts there is little his team-mates can do to stop the England forward walking away at the end of the season.

Walcott was deployed in his preferred central striker's role at Reading on Monday night, where he netted the final goal in a 5-2 win which lifted the Gunners back up to within two points of fourth place. The 23-year-old is currently in negotiations over a contract extension with the club, but - as the January transfer window looms - there is little indication of a swift conclusion.

"Of course we want him to stay, but that is something that is going on between the player and the club. I don't know what is going on behind the scenes - we don't talk about it, because that is going on in football all the time," Vermaelen said. "It's the job of the board and the club what they are going to do with it so we can't do anything about it."

He added: "It happened last time with Robin (Van Persie) in the summer.

"Theo has been invaluable for us when he played this year. He is dangerous for us, can stretch a team with his pace and I hope he could stay this year."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger felt his team answered their critics in the best way possible at the Madejski Stadium where a hat-trick from Santi Cazorla saw them race into a 4-0 lead before any threat of a fightback was eventually extinguished by Walcott's late strike.

It was a missed penalty from Vermaelen which saw Arsenal lose their Capital One Cup shoot-out at Bradford. The Belgian defender, however, maintains the squad were determined to put that bitter disappointment behind them as soon as possible.

"You can't stand still too long with a defeat like that - you just learn from it and move on," he said.

"We had a lot to prove. A lot of people questioned us and maybe that's normal, but we wanted to perform against Reading and we did that."


PA

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