Theo Walcott is halfway through his seventh full season at Arsenal - and he rates this one as his best yet.

The England international committed his future to the Club by signing a new contract last week and his value to Arsène Wenger's side has been evident through a productive campaign.

Walcott has 15 goals in all competitions - exceeding his previous season's best of 13 with four months to spare - and has six assists in the Premier League alone.

At 23, Walcott is maturing into a top-class performer and, following another well-taken goal at Chelsea on Sunday, he explained why he's enjoying his football more than ever.

"I’ve been happy with the last couple [of seasons], but more so this season, being more consistent and scoring more goals, in the bigger occasions as well," said Walcott.

"Even [Chelsea keeper] Petr Cech was saying ‘great finish’ after [Sunday's game]. It’s coming from a world-class keeper and it means a lot. You get Juan Mata whose congratulating me afterwards. Little things like that, coming from these players that I look up to and watch and learn from every week means a lot to me.

"Now I want to repay everyone who’s been faithful to me and I’m definitely ready for that battle.

"I’d rather not score goals and the team wins, that’s the sort of person that I am. But I know where Arsenal should be. That’s why I committed my future to them. We need to start realising how good we are, because we showed some great stuff in the second half [against Chelsea] but we need to do that from the start of games."

Walcott has been in the spotlight since his future was thrown into doubt last year and his relief at signing a new deal is clear - not least to ease the pressure on those closest to him.

"It’s been tough," he admitted. "Even though it hasn’t really shown on or off the pitch at times, deep down it has been tough, not just for me, but for my family and my partner getting hit with it every week. I’m happy it’s finally sorted.

"I can deal with that side of things [the speculation]. It’s more my family or people around me that might not have been able to think that I could cope with it. It just shows I’m growing as a man. I’m more mature. I can deal with these things.

"I tend to not really concentrate on that side of things. I’ve always trusted the manager and I’ve always spoken to all the players and the manager and everyone behind closed doors. Like I said, I always wanted to stay."

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Chris Harris 21 Jan 2013