Theo Walcott has expressed his delight at signing a new long-term deal with Arsenal.

The England international’s future had been the subject of intense speculation but Walcott agreed terms with the Club and his contract extension was announced on Friday.

Walcott reaction
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 The 23-year-old is relieved that he can now focus solely on his football and says his priority was always to remain at Emirates Stadium.

“I am very pleased,” Walcott told Arsenal Player. “For the last three games before [the Chelsea match] it was sort of done, but it was on my mind and had been for a long time because it was so close.

“It is difficult to play and block out that side of it, but I tried to do the best I could and hopefully everyone was happy with what I did. I always wanted to stay and I am happy that myself and the Club have come to an agreement.

“There has been so much speculation for so long, and I am very pleased my future is sorted. But it is all about the present now.”

Walcott scored his 15th goal of the season in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, and says Arsenal must begin games with more intensity if they are to climb the table.

“We didn't really start until the second half,” he said. “It's a shame that we conceded two sloppy goals and then woke up a bit. We need to show that character and desire to win from the start, not when we concede a goal.

It is difficult to play and block out that side of it, but I tried to do the best I could and hopefully everyone was happy with what I did

“That is the disappointing thing. We dominated the second half and it is just a shame that we could not get the equaliser that we probably deserved. There were some positives to take out of it, but we need to start learning from the mistakes that we have made.”

Arsenal have a game in hand against West Ham on Wednesday, and Walcott says nothing but a win will do as the Gunners seek to build some momentum.

“There are a lot of teams that have got stronger this year, so we need to step on the gas. We don't want to be playing catch-up,” he said. “We want to get points on the board as soon as possible.

“We have a tough game at home against West Ham, so we need to be ready. It is a massive game, we have home support and we need to start clocking up points there.

“We have been hot and cold at home of late, so we must be very positive and if we show the commitment that we did in the second half [against Chelsea] we should be fine.”

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Rob Kelly 21 Jan 2013