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Arsenal's Theo Walcott turns boos into cheers

  • Guardian, Monday, February 27, 2012 3:29 PM

Theo Walcott departed Arsenal's 5-2 win over Tottenham with the home fans chorusing his name but with an admission from his coach, Arsene Wenger, that he had considered substituting the winger as Arsenal trailed and he was the subject of abuse from his own fans.

The 22-year-old had labored to make an impact through this derby's early exchanges and sections of the home crowd targeted him as a focus of their frustration. Walcott, whose form has suffered over recent months, appeared to buckle under the pressure when, with his side 2-0 down, he was gripped by indecision when offered the chance to tear at goal and his lack of confidence was exposed by a weak attempt to liberate Robin van Persie instead, reports Dominic Fifield.

But Walcott somehow recovered his poise to score twice. They were the winger's first Premier League goals at the Emirates Stadium since December 2010. "The crowd was starting to get on his back," said Wenger, "so you do wonder if you are doing him a favor by leaving him on.

"But I felt that he has the qualities we needed, that considering the rest of the team are hiding [among bodies in-field] he is a player who can be straight, direct and can go behind the defenders. Nobody else is like that. He is a very direct player and you know that sometimes he can miss a first touch but still, considering the balance of our team, I felt it was important to keep him in the side."

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