We must step up title challenge next year, says Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott insists Arsenal will have “no excuse” if they do not mount a serious title challenge next year.

Arsenal all but secured third place in the Premier League on Sunday when they drew 1-1 at Manchester United.

The Gunners have had to go through the preliminary stages of the Champions League for three of the last four years, but barring two big losses against Sunderland and West Brom, they will go directly into the group stages next season.

Walcott believes Arsenal are punching below their weight, though. He was disappointed that Arsenal did not pose a challenge to Chelsea until the spring.

Next season has to be a different story, the Arsenal winger insists.

“Third place is a step forward from where we finished last year,” Walcott said. “But we want to – and need to – be pushing on now and trying to challenge for the title. There was an opportunity in the season when we were getting close to Chelsea and people were talking about us competing but I sensed throughout the dressing room that we were never quite up there with Chelsea. But looking at the squad, the manager has an absolute headache to try and pick his best team and we want that going into next season.

Walcott’s future has been the source of much speculation. The former Southampton man’s contract runs out at the end of next season. He refused to discuss the matter after the final whistle at Old Trafford though.

“No I can’t give you an update on the contract situation. I just want to continue playing my football and we will see where it takes me at the end of the season,” he said


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