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Gunners confident new deal will convince Walcott

THEO Walcott is expected to be presented with an improved contract offer by Arsenal when talks over the forward's future resume imminently.

Walcott's future has been in doubt since he rejected an attempt to bounce him into a £75,000-a-week offer last August, believing the deal undervalued his contribution to the Arsenal side.

Arsene Wenger retaliated by dropping Walcott to the bench for most of September and October, but after clear-the-air talks last month he was restored to the starting side in his favoured position of centre-forward.

Three games that brought four goals, including a hat-trick against Newcastle, appear to have persuaded Wenger, who controls all contract offers at the club directly, to offer an improved deal.

After the Newcastle game talks between the club and Walcott's management were scheduled to resume in the first two weeks of January, and will begin shortly.

Walcott's intention has always been to listen to Arsenal before considering offers from elsewhere, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool among the clubs monitoring the situation.

With the player minded to stay and Wenger finally willing to compromise on a wage offer that takes Walcott closer to the highest earners at the Emirates, such as Andrei Arshavin, who is on around £90,000-a-week, a deal looks increasingly likely.

It is not expected to be signed this week, but Arsenal are hopeful of securing his signature before the end of the month.

City, meanwhile, have returned approximately 900 tickets for the game against the Gunners on Sunday.

City's allocation of roughly 3,000 tickets, which cost £62 for adults, did not sell out.

As a result, the club have returned enough for Arsenal to put a whole block in the Clock End of Emirates Stadium back on sale to their own supporters.

As City is a Category A game the tickets were highly priced at £62 for adults, £23.50 for under-16s, and £26.50 for over-65s. City, unusually, have been unable to sell nearly one third of them.