Walcott: Arsenal the best team in Europe
Theo Walcott understands just how difficult it is now to hold down a place in the Arsenal side, who he says have been the "best team in Europe" this year and could lift the title next season if everyone stays fit.
The Gunners' slim hopes of overhauling Chelsea's 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League were all but extinguished following a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Walcott watched on from the bench again before a late substitute appearance, with the forward's last club start having been back in March.
The 26-year-old - who recovered from a serious knee injury last season, but has yet to agree a new long-term deal - feels such strength in depth can only be positive for the squad, if sometimes frustrating for individuals.
Fellow England internationals Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs also did not make the first XI against Chelsea.
"There is a lot of competition for places so everyone seems to lift a gear and play extremely well. It makes it a bit more difficult for people to get into the team," Walcott said.
"I think, especially this season, not many people thought we would be challenging for the Premier League.
"In this calendar year, we have been the best team in Europe.
"It is the strongest the squad has been and everyone is staying fit as well.
"There aren't many injuries in the squad, which is important. If we had an injury-free season, I think we could lift the title."