THEO WALCOTT believes Arsenal have shown they can do the “dirty things” which are needed to mount a sustained challenge for the Barclays Premier League title.
The Gunners came through a stern examination at West Ham on Sunday when they battled to a 2-0 win as they made up ground on Chelsea and moved further ahead of Manchester United, while keeping the deficit on leaders Liverpool at just four points.
And Walcott believes the manner of the hard-fought victory at Upton Park — which came via a deflected shot from Emmanuel Adebayor with 15 minutes left and a second from the substitute in stoppage time – will have sent a signal the Gunners have added another dimension to their game.
“We knew what to expect when we came to Upton Park and we dug in,” the England winger said.
“The main thing is the three points – sometimes people say that we do not do all the dirty things, which we did during the first half, and that frustrated them at times. Then we just dug in and got our goal in the end, before Ade’s second killed the game off.”
Arsene Wenger’s youngsters have already lost twice – at Fulham and at home against surprise package Hull – so there is now little margin for further error.
Walcott added: “The title will go down to the wire and there are going to be a few teams in the race. However, we just have to concentrate on our selves and winning our own games.”
Next up for the Gunners is a hotly-anticipated north London derby against Tottenham, now under new boss Harry Redknapp.
Having been beaten 5-1 at White Hart Lane in last season’s Carling Cup semi-final second leg – a first defeat against the old enemy in 21 games — revenge may well be on the agenda for Arsenal fans, but Walcott insists the players will just be focussed on getting the right result.
“Tottenham is the biggest game of the whole season for the fans, so if we can do well at home in front of our supporters it will be brilliant,” he said.
“We will not worry about bringing back memories of the cup semi-final. We will just be concentrating on how to exploit their negatives. We just have to get right at them.”
Arsenal, meanwhile, are close to announcing the appointment of a new managing director after the departure of Keith Edelman earlier this year.
Axed Spurs’ sporting director Damien Comolli has emerged as a potential candidate, having worked with Wenger as European scout for seven years and helped bring youngsters such as defender Gael Clichy to the club.
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