• Premier League

Wenger still confident on Walcott stay

ESPN staff
December 30, 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remains confident Theo Walcott will ultimately extend his stay at the club, insisting he "loves" the Gunners.

Walcott, out of contract at the end of the season, refused to elaborate on his future following Arsenal's 7-3 victory over Newcastle on Saturday evening - a game in which he scored a hat-trick while playing predominantly from his preferred central striking role.

Despite the England international's secretive stance, Wenger remains determined to keep the forward - and believes Walcott is also keen to stay.

"The club loves Theo, Theo loves the club and trust me reciprocal love is difficult to find," said Wenger. "He was man of the match, but the intensity of my desire is the same as it would have been if he had had a disastrous game: I want him to extend his contract and I'm hopeful he will.

"Theo showed what he can do, but there was also a new determination about him and a desire to run into the box."

The Frenchman believes Walcott will continue to improve as he gets more practice in the role.

Wenger added: "I know he can only get stronger. He is an intelligent player and because of that intelligence, he will continue to improve."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.