Wenger challenge Walcott to stay at Arsenal and help fight for the Premier League title

Arsene Wenger challenged Theo Walcott to stay at Arsenal and win the Premier League after the striker scored the opening goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Walcott, who was preferred up front to Olivier Giroud in the starting line-up, vindicated his manager’s decision with a superb, left-footed volley on 40 minutes to open the scoring.

And though the player only has two years left on his current deal, with preliminary talks taking place over his future after he struggled to get back into the team on his return from injury this year, Wenger insisted that his future should be at Arsenal.

Manchester City and Chelsea have both expressed interest in the past but Wenger said: ‘I don’t see why he should not be here next season.
‘He was a player who was out for a year and it took him a while to come back to his best. I think he’s now at an age where it’s very interesting. He has experience and he is at his peak physically. It’s a time to stay with us.

‘Walcott was on a high because he scored a hat-trick last week; Giroud has given a lot to the team since January. But I felt he was a bit jaded, a bit tired. And I thought Walcott’s pace would be a problem for them because they play a high line and we had combined pace of Alexis Sanchez and Walcott.

‘I had many, many big decisions. I had to leave big players out of the squad and had difficult decisions but just tried to find a good balance.

And Wenger has challenged his team to use their second successive FA Cup win – a record equalling sixth win for the boss and a record 12th win for the club – to challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for the league title next season.

‘I think of course we can push on. Why not?’ he said. ‘We have won the league in the past when we had the potential to do it and that’s what we want to do again.

‘That’s what we want to show next season. I think it’s about consistency and we have shown signs of that. In the past when we won leagues, we were consistent.

‘We feel we have progress since the start of the season in the way we play, in the way we manage games, in our togetherness, in the certainty of our football.

‘It’s a good platform to do better next season but in England it’s not like any other county – there are six teams that can win the league. It is a reality.’
Wenger equalled the record of former Aston Villa manager George Ramsey, who won six FA Cups between 1887 and 1920 and he said: ‘I’m very proud of that because if it has not been done it shows it’s not easy and we all want to achieve things that are not easy. And for the club it’s great because we won it 12 times.’

Credit: Rob Draper/SportsMail