Wenger says Walcott better than ever despite England axing

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Theo Walcott was axed from the England squad on his 28th
birthday but Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes the
forward has become a more complete player this season.

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England manager Gareth Southgate confirmed to reporters Walcott
“wasn’t chuffed to bits” to be informed he had been overlooked
for this months’ games against Germany and Lithuania in favour
of the likes of uncapped duo Nathan Redmond and Michail
Antonio.

Walcott made the point to Southgate he is one of the leading
goalscorers in England and, with 17 in 29 appearances he is on
target to overhaul his best ever return of 21 from the 2012-13
season.

“Theo has become more of a complete player, more efficient,”
Wenger said ahead of Arsenal’s trip to West Brom, where he
addressed Walcott’s history of being snubbed for England’s 2010
World Cup and Euro 2016 squads, while injury ruled him out of
Brazil 2014.

“He can influence games. He is a focused player and he was not
picked for the European Championship.

“Always in life, you try to get to the next level when things
don’t go for you – or you think you did everything right and
continue to live like you did before.

“He had the right response. He said: ‘What do I need to do to
get higher up?’ And he did it.”

HD Theo Walcott England

Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe earned his first call-up since 2013
after varying fitness issues for Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge
and Wayne Rooney left Southgate short in attack.

Wenger has previously talked up Walcott’s potential to operate
as a central striker but now accepts his best position is on
the right wing.

“I was always convinced, because of the quality of his runs, he
was a central striker,” he added. “For a while he was as well
but he made up his mind during the summer break and he feels
more comfortable on the right.

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“He is fair. He said if you want me I will play through the
middle but if you give me the choice I would prefer to play on
the right.

“It is his preferred position and it is true that is where he
is most efficient.”

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