Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has lauded Theo Walcott’s ability to play in different roles for the benefit of the side after his hat-trick against Newcastle on Saturday.
The 23-year-old started his third successive game in a central striking position against Alan Pardew’s struggling side and finished the game with three goals after an impressive performance.
But Wenger insists Walcott’s magnificent individual display will have no bearing on the player’s contract negotiations with the club, stating that he has always been a valued member of the squad.
“He likes it [in that position]. But I believe Theo is just happy to play, even if he is on the wing because he still knows he can score,” Wenger told the club’s official website.
“I like the fact he can play through the middle because it gives us more opportunities to do that and more possibilities to change from game to game. I will do it again.
“I have worked with Theo for seven years and the fact that he had an exceptional game today will not influence me more or less.
“If he’d had a disastrous game, I would still have wanted him to sign with the same intensity. It is good that he gets rewarded for his effort. That, for me, is more important.”
The victory over Newcastle saw Arsenal move up to fifth in the league table and within three points of local rivals Tottenham in fourth, and Wenger is drawing comfort ahead of the second half of the campaign from the fighting spirit shown by his players throughout the game.
“I enjoyed [this match] very much because there was everything in there,” he added. “We played against a good team, it was not a 7-3 because we played against a poor team.
“They kept going: three times we were in front and three times they came back, but it didn’t look to affect the team. That was positive for me, and I think it will boost the confidence of the team.
“My hope is that this win will give even more confidence, desire and ambition to our team, and that in 2013 will confirm we are a great side.”