- Premier League
Walcott hopeful Arsenal future will be decided soon
Theo Walcott has confirmed talks with Arsenal over a contract extension will continue in 2013, after he scored during a rare appearance as a central striker against Reading on Monday.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger opted to start Walcott as his main striker at the Madejski Stadium, and was rewarded as the contract rebel scored the clinching goal in a 5-2 win that raised the north London side to fifth in the Premier League table.
Speculation is rife that Walcott will leave the club over the next six months - either in the January transfer window, or when his current contract expires next summer - but the 23-year-old insisted his future could remain at the Emirates Stadium.
"Talks are ongoing," Walcott confirmed afterwards to Sky Sports. "It's going to be a slow process.
"It's taking a long time but hopefully something will happen soon.''
He added: "I enjoy playing up front, it's about getting more opportunities and today the boss gave me an opportunity.
"I thought I played well - but it's also about the boys behind me, Jack [Wilshere] and the others make my job so much easier."
After giving Walcott a chance to play the position he craves, Wenger hinted afterwards that the England international may receive further opportunities to lead the line over the next few weeks after impressing with his display.
When asked why he gave Walcott the central striking role, Wenger replied: "Training sessions. He showed his abilities to play this position [in training]. The timing of his moves is good.
"I believe for his first game he has done very well in the position. Very encouraging signs."
Wenger also insisted that he has urged Walcott to extend his stay at the Emirates.
"It is not my decision, it is Theo's decision as well - if it is [only] my decision, it is quickly done," he said. "Theo has been educated at Southampton and Arsenal, where he has become a top level player here.
"I hope that when he considers his future he will think this is the best place for him and sign for us. I will just say our desire and will is clear, and Theo knows that. Hopefully we can get to a happy end with it."