Theo Walcott has revealed manager Arsene Wenger inspired the Gunners to a win 4-1 after ‘giving them a rocket’ during his halftime chat that expressed the Frenchman’s passion for the club and its welfare.
The Arsenal boss has qualified his side for the Champions League for every season of his 15 year reign, and at 1-1 halfway through the vital tie on Tuesday night at the Emirates, it seemed Wigan were set to ruin his incredible run in Europe’s elite tournament.
Walcott, who gave Arsenal the lead against the Latics, has paid tribute to his manager who provoked his side by challenging them not to be the ones remembered for breaking the club’s impeccable record.
The Gunners went on to score three goals in eight minutes to win 4-1, leaving rivals Spurs out of the UCL qualifying spots and now have a distinct possibility of finishing third.
The English winger said:
We got a real rocket at half-time.
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We’ll keep the details in the dressing room. But it’s great that the manager has that passion; and it got a bit more out of the players.
We all knew how big it is, not just for the manager, but for the fans, the players and the club itself. It’s massive to be in the Champions League. But at least now qualification is in our hands.
I felt we did show some good play in the first half but we didn’t take our chances. Thankfully we did in the second.
The manager reflected his experience at half-time. It is a 90-minute game. We didn’t have to panic. We had plenty of time left. We just had to keep making the right decisions and not force things.
That’s the important thing. We know when to play at the right times and when to commit bodies forward; and we got that balance right. We need to make sure we do it at Newcastle on Sunday as well. We have not lost now in a long time, so that’s a real positive for us. And we just have to keep that going now. I don’t know why but we seem to finish seasons really well. That’s weird isn’t it?
We just have such great experience in knowing what to do when the time is right. Maybe it is just because the players want it so much. If we could just show that in mid-season and at the start we could hopefully be even higher than we are and not have this situation.
For us, it’s all eyes on the Champions League at the moment.
We have been in it for the past 15 seasons, and we don’t want to be the players who are not part of that.
All the players know just how important that is to the manager and to the club themselves, both for now and for the future.
It is great to hear the passion from the players and boss. You could see how much every one of the four goals we scored against Wigan meant to the players. They battled hard and exercised composure when it mattered. It is encouraging for next season but most importantly the passion and fight is strong in their minds for this weekend’s final must-win match against Newcastle.
Hopefully Wenger will not have to loose his rocket again!