• Premier League

Wenger ready to give Walcott central chance

ESPN staff
October 5, 2012

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given the first indication that he is willing to grant Theo Walcott his wish to play as a central striker for the club.

Talking ahead of the Gunners' weekend Premier League fixture against West Ham, Wenger revealed his ongoing plan to turn Gervinho from a wide player into a more traditional No. 9 - just as he has done in the past, most famously with Thierry Henry but also with recently-departed forward Robin van Persie.

And the Frenchman revealed that he has also decided to mould Walcott into more of a central player over the course of the season, after the England international revealed his decision to delay signing a new contract with the club was linked to his frustration about being limited to wide areas.

"I did that [changed position] with Robin van Persie," Wenger said. "He was more a technical player, it was not obvious to put him as the central striker.

"I did it with Thierry Henry, I did it now with Gervinho and I think I will do it as well with Walcott."

On Gervinho's transition, Wenger gave an insight into why he felt the Ivorian could prosper while leading the line for the club - despite the presence of more 'traditional' strikers, including Olivier Giroud and Marouane Chamakh, within the squad.

Gervinho took to the position well last weekend, scoring a fine equalising goal in what was ultimately a 2-1 defeat for the north London club against Chelsea.

"The thinking was to use well his quality of movement and his pace," Wenger said. "But of course you have to overcome a little bit of an obstacle that he doesn't correspond well to the traditional image you have of a central striker.

After also referencing Walcott, he added: "They have other qualities that are well suited to our game. Our game is based on movement and technical ability and they have that."

Walcott announced last month that he was seeking a more central role within the team - also invoking the example of Henry, the club's all-time top scorer who arrived from Juventus as an out-and-out winger.

"Thierry joined the club when he was 22 and I want to become an Arsenal legend like him, playing up front as well, which is a big factor for me," he said. "I've played on the right wing and had the opportunity to play up front a bit more so I think it's about time."

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