Wenger wants Walcott out wide

  • Last Updated: May 6 2013, 12:31 BST

Arsene Wenger will resist the temptation to play Theo Walcott centrally more often despite him netting his 20th goal of the season at QPR.

Theo Walcott: Netted his 20th goal of the season at QPR
Theo Walcott: Netted his 20th goal of the season at QPR

Walcott struck his 13th Barclays Premier League goal of the campaign after 20 seconds as Arsenal won 1-0 at Loftus Road to keep their quest to qualify for next season's Champions League on course.

Wenger praised Walcott's improved finishing and goal tally - it is the first time Walcott has hit 20 goals in a season and came on his 200th league appearance - but will continue to utilise the England international in a wide position. Lukas Podolski was the central striker at Loftus Road, but Walcott was the attacking focal point once the Germany forward was substituted.

"He finished in the middle," Wenger said.

"I use him on the flank because I try to put a player in the middle who can score goals and having another player on the flank who can score it gives you a little bit of security.

"He (Walcott) is more mature in his finishing. His goal was similar to the one he scored against Manchester United. It's a short back lift.

"He makes good runs and he is calm now in front of goal. When he arrived [from Southampton], in front of goal the ball could go anywhere.

"Now you see every time he hits the target, he is forcing the keeper into a save.

"That's why his numbers are so much better."

Wenger also praised Wojciech Szczesny after his mid-season wobble as the goalkeeper made a late save from Loic Remy which ensured Arsenal would emerge with all three points.

It was the only time Szczesny, who was granted a first-team reprieve when Lukasz Fabianski suffered a rib injury, was truly tested in the contest.

"It was a very great save, yes," Wenger said.

"When I saw him dive I thought he would not get there, but he extended his final resource very well and he got there.

"It shows the importance of a goalkeeper. We needed him once really and he got there.

"Remy took the shot very well and very early and you needed a special save."

Wenger expected Szczesny to bounce back after his omission earlier this season, having made similar decisions in the past regarding the likes of David Seaman and Jens Lehmann.

"He has responded very well," Wenger added.

"When he came back he was sharper than when I left him out. Our job is to be competitive and he did very well."

The result saw Arsenal return above Tottenham, after a late Gareth Bale goal saw Spurs beat Southampton earlier in the day.

"I expected them to win," said Wenger, whose side have two games remaining this term, against relegation-threatened Wigan and Newcastle.

"We have to go to the end and win our games. We can get 73 points.

"We have a good chance [of Champions League qualification] if we get 73 points to be there."

Defender Per Mertesacker was unaware of Spurs' result before the QPR clash.

He is uncertain if he will watch Wednesday's London derby between Chelsea and Spurs at Stamford Bridge which could impact on Arsenal's fate.

"We have to wait and see what happens on Wednesday," the Germany defender said.

"We have to win, anyway, both the games that are coming. At the moment we're on a good run, but we have still to focus on ourselves.

"We can't drop any points. That is the most important thing for us. What happens on Wednesday is not in our hands."


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