By Chris Harris

It has taken him a couple of years but Theo Walcott is now punching his weight in the Premier League, according to Arsène Wenger.

When the Frenchman signed Walcott from Southampton in January 2006, he warned that the then 16-year-old would need to steer clear of injury so he could build the core strength needed to deal with the hustle and bustle of top-flight football.

Walcott was regularly knocked off the ball in his early days at Arsenal but he has been a more powerful presence on the right flank for Club and country this season. Wenger believes the right work off the pitch has made the teenager a more fearsome prospect on it.

"He is a man now in the fight," he said. "You feel he has much more power than a year ago, or six months ago.

"We do a bit of strengthening of the upper body but not weights, because I believe in football it's more about coordination.

"Weights make you more rigid and coordination makes you more flexbile and Walcott is a guy who has natural power. He will naturally become a strong upper body player."

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17 Oct 2008