Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has laid down the gauntlet ahead of next season and says that after retaining the FA Cup his Arsenal side will be targeting the Premier League next season.
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Walcott vindicated Arsene Wenger’s decision to start the 26 year old up front after 40 minutes when he latched onto a clever Alexis Sanchez header, volleying past Aston Villa’s Shay Given. It was a finish of a man that wanted to prove a point, it was also a finish from a man that is confident after his impressive hat-trick against West Brom just a week earlier.
There are clear improvements that need to be made in the Summer by adding players to the squad but also personal improvements from within the squad, Arsenal’s unconvincing Premier League start saw them drop 12 points behind eventual winners Chelsea which was a gap that Wenger’s side were never realistically going to close. Arsenal finished third in the end and have not won the League since 2003-04 when they won it in style going a whole season unbeaten.
“The Premier League has to be the next target for us,” said Walcott.
“That’s two FA Cup wins now but this is one of the best squads we have had at Arsenal so we should be achieving more. We need to start well in the Premier League next year.”
From the first whistle you could see Walcott was fired up for this final, he had a clear desire to make up for lost time and his omission from last year’s final due to injury. He did not disappoint.
His first half goal was followed by a commanding second half which saw a thunderbolt from player of the season Alexis Sanchez, a headed goal from Captain Per Mertesacker and then late substitute Olivier Giroud wrapped it up on 90 minutes when he tapped home from a cross supplied by fellow substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“I missed all this last year and to be part of it this year is a dream come true,” added Walcott.
“My family are here and I have worked so hard, as has everyone to do this. I want to thank the manager for picking me and having faith in me and hopefully I repaid him.
“I also want to thank the physios and everyone who has looked after me. This is for them.”
Walcott is now expected to sit down with the club and negotiate a contract extension, his deal currently runs until Summer 2016. Reaching an agreement would be a good start to a Summer which should be a busy one in the transfer market. To borrow a phrase, extending Walcott’s contract would be “like a new signing”.