Arsenal midfielder enthused by Walcott’s return against Southampton

Theo Walcott of Arsenal applauds the fans following his team's 2-0 victory over Southampton. Photo b

Theo Walcott of Arsenal applauds the fans following his team's 2-0 victory over Southampton. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Jack Wilshere believes Arsenal will pose an even greater attacking threat to their rivals as players return from injury over the coming weeks.

Wilshere has frequently been pressed into service in a wider role, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all spending lengthy periods in the treatment room.

But Walcott made his comeback as a substitute in Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over his former club Southampton, while Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain are pencilled in to return either side of Christmas.

And Wilshere – who has stated he would prefer to operate in a central role – feels the trio will provide valuable variation as the Gunners bid to cement their grip on top spot in the Premier League.

“Someone like Theo just gives us something different,” said Wilshere. “We’re all ball players, we can move in and out and we like to change positions.

“But then we’ve got Theo, who can run in behind and I think he did well for his first game back. We’ve got Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain coming back as well and they’re both wingers.

“So that means there’s going to be strong competition on the wing as well as in the middle. We’ve got strong competition all over the pitch and that can only be good for the manager.

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“I want to play in the middle, in a deep-lying midfield position, but at the moment the people there are doing well, so I’ve had to play on the wing, which is fine with me.

“I can play on the right as well, I’m happy coming in on my left foot and I feel I can do a decent job there.”

Wilshere was one of the Gunners’ better performers as they held off the challenge of Southampton, almost scoring with an early chip that struck the post and rebounded to goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

Eventually, the home side were indebted to striker Olivier Giroud, who netted both goals to take his tally for the season to 10, at just under one every two games.

It took the French forward until late January to reach double figures last season as he took time to adjust after his move to the Emirates from Montpellier.

But Wilshere feels his team-mate is especially deserving of praise, given the persistent speculation that ran through last summer – and has begun to resurface as the next transfer window approaches – of Arsenal seeking to buy another forward.

“Especially at the start of the season, when people were saying that [Luis] Suarez was coming in, it would have been tough for someone who plays in that position,” said the 21-year-old midfielder.

“But Olivier’s shown great character this season – for me he’s been our best player. He holds the ball up, he brings others into play and he’s learned that side of the game, that the Premier League is tough and you have to push defenders off the ball sometimes.

“He’s played nearly every game, so fair play to him – he keeps going and going and he’s got a great physique and base of fitness. In pre-season he’s always first in the running and that’s surprising for a striker.”

“He’s been brilliant and he’s got some goals as well, so hopefully he can continue that form.”