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Tuesday 25 September 2018

Theo vows to catch up

Returning Walcott insists he'll be back to best soon

Goalkeeper Artur Boruc of Southampton loses the ball to Olivier Giroud of Arsenal. Photo: Clive Rose/ Getty Images
Goalkeeper Artur Boruc of Southampton loses the ball to Olivier Giroud of Arsenal. Photo: Clive Rose/ Getty Images
Theo Walcott of Arsenal comes on a substitute. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

THEO Walcott has no doubts he can return to form to drive Arsenal on in the Premier League and play himself into the England World Cup squad.

The pacy forward made his first appearance since September when he came on for the final 20 minutes of the 2-0 win over former club Southampton at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, which moved Arsenal four points clear at the top of the table after being gifted an opening goal by a blunder from visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

Since being sidelined by an abdominal problem which required surgery, Walcott has seen the Gunners make positive headlines again and the likes of Tottenham winger Andros Townsend stake a claim for a place in Roy Hodgson's final 23-man England party for Brazil 2014.

While the 24-year-old admits he was somewhat rusty on his comeback, Walcott has every confidence it will not be long before he is up to full speed once again.

"It is a challenge I can face, I have faced some in my short career so far," said Walcott, who was a controversial omission from Fabio Capello's 2010 World Cup squad in South Africa.

"It is nothing new to me, I know how to deal with it all.

"I have some fantastic people around me and know how good I am.

"It will take a couple of games, but I am sure I will be back to my best very soon."

Walcott continued: "It has been longer than I thought, but it is so good to be back out on the pitch with the guys and playing in such a fantastic team.

Perform

"Seeing the way we play football has been fairly pleasant to watch (from the sidelines), but any player who is injured wants to go out there and perform."

Walcott could be drafted into the starting XI for tomorrow night's Champions League clash against Marseille, where another victory would see Arsenal all but secure safe passage through to the knockout stage.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger feels the England forward will make a major impact when fully match fit.

"Theo looks a bit off the pace of high level competition, but let's not forget he has been out for seven weeks," he said.

Arsenal had twice hit the woodwork before they went ahead when Saints keeper Boruc was robbed in possession by Olivier Giroud as he tried dragbacks in the penalty area and the France forward ran on to put the ball into an empty net.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to lay the blame solely at the unsteady feet of Boruc for what was only a second defeat of an impressive Premier League campaign for his side.

It was a sentiment echoed by defender Jos Hooiveld, who was drafted into the side following illness to Dejan Lovren.

"We are Southampton, we win as a team and we lose as a team," Hooiveld said.

"If somebody makes a mistake, they put their hands up to say I could have done this or that, but it is never a blaming atmosphere.

"Next week, the fans will be happy again if Artur makes a great save, so that is part of football."

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