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Wenger: I always wanted to keep Walcott at Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger watches over Theo Walcott in training. Credit: PA

Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott is like a different player this season following the forwards's upturn in form.

The England international started just 15 league games and scored five goals last season, but has already matched that goal tally this term following his brace in Saturday's win over Swansea.

Arsenal have won their last six games in all competitions but it could have been different had Walcott been allowed to depart in the summer, with several clubs interested in his services.

But Wenger insists he did not think about selling Walcott, saying: "Look, I haven't spoken to anybody because I was not ready to let him go. I always wanted to keep him.

"What I've seen of him is that he lets the passion for the game come out of his body. That's what you want from him.

"I've felt that since he's played with more freedom, maybe he lets his feelings come out a bit more and is less calculating: 'Can I do that or can I not do that?'

"He plays with more freedom and more desire. I think he has a less restricted attitude and that shows you that he is a completely different player."

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Wenger never considered selling Walcott in the summer

Walcott is Arsenal's top scorer this season. Credit: PA

Arsene Wenger never contemplated selling Theo Walcott in the summer despite the England international playing a bit part at Arsenal last season.

Walcott started just 15 league games and scored five goals - he has already matched that goal tally this term following his brace in Saturday's win over Swansea.

The 27-year-old has been in scintillating form and is now one of the first names on Wenger's team-sheet, something that could earn him a rest for Wednesday's Champions League visit of Ludogorets.

It could have been very different for player and club had Walcott been allowed to depart but Wenger insists he did not think about selling the England man.

Asked about any interest in the player over the summer, the Frenchman said: "Look, I haven't spoken to anybody because I was not ready to let him go. I always wanted to keep him.

"What I've seen of him is that he lets the passion for the game come out of his body. That's what you want from him.

"I've felt that since he's played with more freedom, maybe he lets his feelings come out a bit more and is less calculating: 'Can I do that or can I not do that?'

"He plays with more freedom and more desire. I think he has a less restricted attitude and that shows you that he is a completely different player."

Arsenal forward hails 'most exciting Premier League'

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott feels the title race the Gunners are currently leading is shaping up as the most exciting yet in the Premier League era.

Arsenal have their best chance of title success in a decade. Credit: PA

Arsene Wenger's men reclaimed top spot with Sunday's 0-0 draw at Stoke, but they are only above second-placed surprise package Leicester on goal difference, while Manchester City are just a point worse off in third.

Tottenham and Manchester United, fourth and fifth respectively, also look to be still in the mix.

You can't tell what's going to happen, it's just so tight. With the amount of teams that could potentially win this league, it's probably going to be the most exciting Premier League for a neutral ever, I think.

No one can call it but we're top and we can be proud of that at this moment in time.

– Arsenal forward Theo Walcott

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Walcott aiming to make Arsenal striker spot his own

Theo Walcott knows he and Arsenal need to be more clinical after their 2-0 win over Stoke.

The England forward started up front and missed a number of chances before netting the opening goal to reward manager Arsene Wenger's faith.

Theo Walcott scored Arsenal's opener versus Stoke. Credit: PA

"I was pleased with that goal," Walcott said.

"Luckily I managed to grab one out of my many chances. I was disappointed because I should have got many, many more, but I'm getting the chances so I'm happy with that.

"When you get given the opportunity you have to try to grab the goals when you can.

"We create chances so we just have to put them away. We're starting to get back to the old Arsenal."

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