Theo Walcott believes that Arsenal are working harder for each other which is consequently strengthening the team defensively and the team mood is very positive.
While some critics may be nailing Wenger for his summer spending, the young English international believes that the new players are coming out of their shells and have needed time to settle.
Here is the article featured on Arsenal’s official website:
Theo, you’ve had two big wins in one week. Do you sense that things are beginning to click?
Well I’ve always felt that the team has been playing well but we’ve not managed to get the right results. The last couple of performances and results have been massive for us, not just for the team but for the whole aura throughout the Club. Everyone is on a high and we need to take that into each game now. We can’t look too far ahead so when people say ‘Arsenal are back on track’ we just have to forget about that. But we are starting to work for each other a bit harder than we have done in the past, that’s the case now, and it’s starting to take shape for us. It’s always going to take time when you have new players come in from different clubs – they need time to settle. They are coming out of their shells as well and it’s only going to do us favours.
One of the features of the Marseille game was the team’s defensive work. What are you doing off the ball that you weren’t doing before?
People say it’s all about the back four but of course it’s the whole team and I think now we are more focused defensively as a whole unit. When we lose the ball we want to get it back as quick as we can. It’s from the forwards all the way back to the goalkeeper and we are defending well. Marseille is a very tough place to get a clean sheet and that was our main target as it is in any game, but to grab the goal in the last minute shows that all the hard work pays off in the end.
You know what to expect from Stoke on Sunday. How tough are they to play against?
Tony Pulis has done a great job with their team. They are physically very strong and they play in the Europa League now so they have that to think about, it’s different for them. But with the squad they’ve got I think they have enough players to cope with that. We know their strengths and weaknesses so we just need to utilise and hopefully, with our home support and the way we are playing at the moment, I can’t see why we can’t beat them.
Robin van Persie stole the show in the last game at Emirates Stadium. How impressive has he been?
He’s been absolutely sensational since he took over the armband from Cesc Fabregas. He’s been a great captain for us already. The free kicks, the goals, his general play… he’s enjoying his football. It’s nice to see him fit, that’s very important to have him fit all season. I was gutted when that turn and chip didn’t go in, I was praying for that to go in and I was already celebrating because it would have been the best goal I’ve ever seen. We want Robin to be firing on all cylinders and he is starting to show the true player he is.
You have a special relationship with Robin – your last seven assists have been for him. What do you put that down to?
We just seem to know where each other is on the pitch. He is the lone striker so that probably does me a favour as he’s the one to aim for in the box! He gives me great passes as well and I suppose when you are a striker you know where you want the ball. When you have someone like him who makes it look so easy up front, it makes my job easier. It comes naturally and we seem to gel.
How happy are you with your own form?
I’m happy. I’ve been asked to do a lot more defensive work but that is part of the job and it has worked so far because we’ve been getting the results. The main thing is that the team wins. I like to grab a goal or an assist because that’s what you judge your game on as a winger. But my general play is fine, my fitness is great and I am looking after myself. It is all paying off and hopefully that can continue.
It is positive to hear that there has been a focus on defending in recent weeks which is finally paying dividends. Theo’s ‘special relationship’ with Van Persie has been instrumental recently too, but I hope that Walcott’s comments on new signings coming out of their shells and adapting to life in North London signifies Park’s inclusion into the first team too as Van Persie needs to be rested. Or perhaps this is a good time to trial Walcott up front? What are your thoughts?