Theo Walcott declared he still saw his long-term future up front after giving Arsenal another glimpse of what they could be missing in their latest north London derby thrashing of 10-man Tottenham.
Walcott further strengthened his negotiating position in his ongoing contract saga by scoring his fifth goal in as many games in yesterday’s 5-2 Barclays Premier League win at the Emirates Stadium.
As well as having been at loggerheads with the Gunners over the value of any new deal, the England star has reportedly demanded assurances from manager Arsene Wenger he would get more opportunities to play as a striker.
And despite being made to wait until the 86th minute yesterday to show what he could do in the position, he still managed to rack up his ninth goal of the season.
With Olivier Giroud having continued his own fine scoring run before Walcott was shifted inside from the right wing, his team-mate was prepared to bide his time.
But asked whether he still craved a more central role, Walcott told talkSPORT: “Oh, without a doubt. I’ve always believed I’m a striker.
“The boss gave me five minutes at the end there and I managed to grab a goal, which is great.
“But when you’ve got someone like Olivier, who’s playing well, there’s no need to change a winning team at the moment.
“I think my time will come. I’ve just got to be a little more patient.
“But, like I say, I want to play up front. That’s my position.”
Walcott was relaxed about contract talks that threatened to end in an acrimonious split during the last transfer window, while Wenger insisted he was doing everything possible to ensure the former Southampton star did not walk away when his current deal expires next summer.
Wenger has repeatedly failed to convince his biggest names not to quit the club during Arsenal’s seven-year trophy drought but Walcott appeared more optimistic about the club’s prospects following yesterday’s victory, which lifted them to sixth in the table.
“It’s looking bright,” he said.
“We’ve just got to, obviously, not get ahead of ourselves because we need to push on.
“If we don’t win our next game, it’s going to be a disappointing result.”
Arsenal still look an accident waiting to happen at the back but in Walcott, Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and the outstanding Santi Cazorla, they have the ammunition and sharpshooters to fire themselves into the Champions League spots.
Walcott told BBC Sport: “We were very ruthless going forward and it’s great to win, especially in the derby, for the fans, for us players as well, because these are the games you do not want to lose.
“But now we’ve got to show that in every single game.”
Cazorla, particularly, looks key to Arsenal’s hopes.
Walcott said: “He’s on top of the world at the moment.
“His first season in the Premier League, he’s an absolute dream to play with.
“I’m on the pitch now with him and the stuff he does is absolutely fantastic to watch.
“I don’t know what foot he’s best at. He’s supplying goals. He just sort of slows the game down when needed.
“You’ve got him and Jack in the middle and that’s definitely going to help our game.”
Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski all found the net in what was their first derby and Walcott added: “The foreign guys, they know what it means now.”
The outcome yesterday could have been so different but for Emmanuel Adebayor’s needless red card while Spurs were winning 1-0, while Arsenal still looked far from comfortable when allowing Gareth Bale to make it 4-2.
Wenger said: “You could see that the confidence was not completely still there.
“I hope this result will help us make a step up on that level.
“When your confidence drops, your game suffers straightaway.
“We have to find stability in our expression and we need more time to work on that but there is something special in the team.
“We are off the top and we have not much time to improve.”