Arsene Wenger watched his Arsenal side secure a 2-2 draw with Schalke on Tuesday night in the Champions League and was quick to praise the performance of Theo Walcott.
"He did very well," Wenger told Sky Sports. "His attitude was positive and he was fresh as well. You always felt he could make a difference and it was no coincidence that he had the chance in the final minute."
Walcott scored his 50th goal for Arsenal against Schalke [Reuters]
The 23-year-old opened the scoring against Schalke after a mistake from Roman Neustadter and was then presented with a chance at the death to settle proceedings. Walcott's tame effort was easily saved and the chance of three points went begging.
It was two moments that may define the career of Walcott. His goal was extremely well taken as he skipped round goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall and calmly tapped the ball home, while his effort in the last seconds, when Arsenal really needed a clinical finish, was of a player who never fully trusted himself to find the back of the net.
After the game Walcott felt that he had done enough to earn an extended run in the Arsenal side, having been overlooked for the recent trip to Manchester United, despite scoring a hat-trick in the Capital One Cup victory over Reading.
"I just want to play, and hopefully now I can get a run in the team because I feel I fully deserve it," said Walcott. "It was a good point but it would have been a fantastic victory. I did all I could with the late chance. The ball got stuck to my feet and I just couldn't get it out."
Walcott has pushed to be considered as a central striker but it has appeared as though Wenger does not quite have faith in the forward to convert chances when they are most needed.
The England international has been in superb form this season, scoring eight goals in all competitions and proving his professionalism by simply taking his chance to impress when called upon.
He has rarely complained but his contract situation remains precarious with Wenger suggesting that he will not even discuss a new deal until Christmas.
"I've not thought about that [losing him], because at the moment I think we will still manage to make a deal with him," Wenger told the Metro. "There is urgency [about sorting it out]. We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other."
Should Wenger continue to use Walcott sporadically, and keep him playing out on the wing, then there is a chance that the former Southampton player will decide to move to pastures new.
Arsenal fans are keen for Walcott to be handed a new deal after witnessing the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin van Perie all leave in the last two seasons.
However, Wenger continues to play a dangerous game and if Walcott has not put pen-to-paper on a new deal by the festive period, then there are bound to be numerous suitors come January.
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