Arsene Wenger backs Theo Walcott to become ‘prolific’ for Arsenal after goal against Stoke

Arsene Wenger has said Theo Walcott can become a prolific striker after the England international scored the opener in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Stoke.

Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring the first goal for Arsenal against Stoke City. Dylan Martinez / Reuters
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Arsene Wenger has said Theo Walcott can become a prolific striker after the England international scored the opener in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Stoke.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench to grab the decisive second goal five minutes from time as Stoke suffered an eighth consecutive defeat at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

But Wenger was most encouraged by the way Walcott netted his first goal of the campaign when he latched onto a long ball forward from Mesut Ozil and fired home in the 31st minute.

Despite Arsenal missing a raft of chances, Wenger was pleased with many aspects of the victory and believes Walcott, usually deployed as a winger, will benefit from the boost in confidence he will gain from playing regularly in the central striker’s role.

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“Theo can find little pockets of space, which he did against a very organised, compact Stoke defence,” Wenger said.

“He scored a very good goal which needed technical quality. Theo gets chances.

“I believe he can become a prolific goalscorer because every game you see how many chances he gets so the bigger belief he has that he can score then the more he will score.”

Wenger was equally delighted with his back line after a second clean sheet in a row.

“I believe we have stabilised our defence,” he said. “We did not concede against Newcastle and now Stoke, that bodes well for the future.

“The centre-halves looked very strong, (Laurent) Koscielny was outstanding, Gabriel played well and (Francis) Coquelin played very well in front of them to so we had a good triangle in the middle there.”

Arsenal now face Dynamo Zagreb in the Champions League and then struggling English champions Chelsea within a week and Wenger hinted he wouldn’t use Walcott up front in both games.

“We play a game every three days and while it helps for a striker to keep playing and scoring for their confidence, you can’t keep playing the same player every three days, especially up front,” he said.

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