x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

'Electric' Walcott maturing into a potent force for Arsenal, says Wenger

The winger scores a hat-trick to bring Blackpool back down to earth in Arsenal's 6-0 thumping of the Premier League newcomers at the Emirates.

LONDON // Arsene Wenger claims there is more to come from "electric" Theo Walcott after the England winger's hat-trick brought Premier League newcomers Blackpool back down to Earth with a crushing 6-0 defeat away to Arsenal. The 21-year-old was a controversial omission from Fabio Capello's ill-fated World Cup squad, only to be welcomed back into the England fold following the dismal display in South Africa.

Walcott produced a stunning display as he tore the Seasiders apart from the kick-off, sweeping the Gunners into an 11th-minute lead. Andrey Arshavin made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Ian Evatt had been sent off for a foul on Marouane Chamakh, which looked to have taken place outside the box. Walcott added a third before the break, with Abou Diaby slotting home number four at the start of the second half and the England man then securing the match ball with another well-taken finish.

Chamakh headed in a sixth goal on 83 minutes, but it was Walcott who stole the headlines. "Theo is more electric than he has been," Wenger said. "He mixed well the final ball and the finishing, which is a sign a player is more mature. Let's not forget what he does is always at a very high pace, so it is not easy to make the right decision, but today, he did." Wenger added: "Theo is 21, so now he is at an age where players usually start, you cannot say he is at the peak of his game. There is a lot to come from him - first, he has to keep his attitude right and also to be injury free, because that decides careers as well."

Wenger suggested Walcott will use a summer of disappointment to become stronger. "Theo is a guy who keeps his feet on the ground, and takes life in a positive way - he sees always the glass is half full, and not half empty," Wenger said. "He took the World Cup as another challenge, and that is what is amazing about Theo." * Press Association