By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger feels Theo Walcott has found the calmness and maturity required to become a top-class centre forward.
The 21-year-old grabbed the first hat-trick of his Arsenal career from the right wing as Blackpool were thumped 6-0 at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The treble was welcome but it also re-ignited the debate about Walcott's best position.
Wenger planned to make him a centre forward when he arrived as a 16-year-old in 2006 and still sees his future up front. In the manager's eyes, his efforts this weekend merely demonstrated that Walcott now has the experience to fulfil his striking potential.
"I believe that Theo can score goals because when he was young he scored goals," said the Frenchman. "I know it goes a bit away between 18 and 21, when players mature and adapt to the top level.
"But I think Theo can score goals again now, and I am convinced he will finish in the middle. First of all he has good timing of his runs, and he senses when you have to go behind the defenders.
"And then he has electric pace - once he is a yard behind a central defender, nobody in the world can catch him.
"He is developing still and maybe what happened to him is part of his development. He was too nervous in front of goal, he rushed his movements. Now he is composed, and once a player feels and understands how to be composed and calm in front of goal, it opens their mind.
"We forget at what pace he does things, like when het cuts the ball back. When he goes forward he can only cut the ball back because no-one can keep up with him!"Copyright 2017 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