CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Walcott urges Arsenal to salvage Euro challenge

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 4:39am
AFP

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Theo Walcott has warned his Arsenal teammates they are in danger of losing the battle to finish in the Premier League's top four unless they play with more urgency.

Arsene Wenger's side head into tonight's London derby against West Ham on the back of successive league defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea, which have left their challenge to qualify for the Champions League in crisis.

The Gunners, languishing in sixth spot, trail fourth-placed Tottenham by seven points and sit 11 points adrift of third-placed Chelsea. "There are a lot of teams that have got stronger this year, so we need to step on the gas. We don't want to be playing catch-up. We want to get points on the board," Walcott said.

"We have a tough game at home against West Ham so we need to be ready. It is a massive game, we have home support and we need to start clocking up points there.

"We have been hot and cold at home of late, so we must be very positive and if we show the commitment that we did in the second half against Chelsea we should be fine. We need to show that character to win from the start, not when we concede a goal."

If Arsenal are to win their game in hand on Tottenham, they need a big performance from England international Walcott, who last week ended months of speculation about his future by agreeing a new contract.

Walcott was linked with several clubs as the end of his contract approached.

But Arsenal's desire to hold onto the winger after a host of star sales over the last 18 months forced the Gunners to give him a three-and-a-half year deal, pushing his weekly wages close to £100,000 (HK$1.2 million).

"For the last three games before Chelsea, the contract was sort of done, but it was on my mind and had been for a long time because it was so close," Walcott said.

"It is difficult to play and block out that side of it, but I tried to do the best I could and hopefully everyone was happy with what I did.

"I always wanted to stay and I am happy that myself and the club have come to an agreement.

"There has been so much speculation and I am very pleased my future is sorted. It is all about the present now."

 

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