Football: Theo Walcott ready for new job as a ‘senior’ cog in Arsenal’s machine

Published: 18 August 2011

AT the age of just 22, Theo Walcott says he is ready to take on the challenge of helping Arsenal’s young players develop into a team capable of ending the club’s trophy drought.

The striker, who gave the Gunners a slender lead in the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Udinese on Tuesday, said he has suddenly found himself as one of the oldest players in the Arsenal camp.

“I’ve been around here a long time now, I know what it’s all about,” he said. “Anything I can do to help young players coming through, getting experience, I’ll do.”

The philosophy of developing teenage talent instead of buying experienced players for big sums of cash in the transfer market is, however, part of the frustration for Arsenal fans, who are fearing another wash-out season.

While supporters have grumbled about the lack of marquee summer signings, manager Arsene Wenger has stuck to his guns by singing the praises of summer acquisitions Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

With Cesc Fabregas completing his move to Barcelona and Samir Nasri also set to leave, the pressure is on Walcott to finally realise the potential that Wenger saw in him when he was a teenager.

“At Newcastle I was the oldest at my table at dinner on Saturday which was quite funny,” Walcott said.

The England international also thinks one of the ways he could bring a new threat to the Arsenal attack is by playing as a central striker rather than on the wing.

“The boss has always promised me a time when I’ll get to play up front,” he said. “It’s been six years so, hopefully, if I keep scoring and doing well, maybe, I’ll get to play up front with Robin (van Persie).

I’m not demanding anything, just giving the boss something to think about.

“I’m positive about this season and hopefully the very positive result against Udinese will help the fans.

I’m sure the boss has got players coming in that I don’t know about.

You need a mixture of young players and ones with experience.

The boss knows what he’s doing.

We have a young team but we can’t use that as an excuse. We need to win something.”