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Walcott: Rooney talked me into Everton move

Walcott has joined Everton. Credit: PA

Theo Walcott has revealed he was talked into swapping Arsenal for Everton by former England team-mate Wayne Rooney.

The 28-year-old forward, who won two FA Cups with Arsenal, completed his switch from the Gunners to Goodison Park on a three-and-a-half-year contract on Wednesday evening.

Walcott joined for an undisclosed fee but manager Sam Allardyce's second signing of the January transfer window reportedly cost £20million.

And the England international insists Rooney's advice was a major factor as he targets trophies with the Toffees.

"I had numerous chats with Wayne and that was one massive factor which really tempted me to come to Everton," Walcott told evertontv. "He told me it was a great place to play football and a club that is on the up. Those are the reasons I came here.

"This is a club with great history. The fans are brilliant, they are always passionate... and I used to find it very tough playing here.

"You want to be part of something and Wayne feels Everton are really going to improve."

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Walcott to miss Arsenal Europa League tie through illness

Walcott missed the Premier League win over Spurs. Credit: PA

Arsenal could again be without forward Theo Walcott through illness for the Europa League tie in Cologne.

Walcott missed the Premier League win over Tottenham and did not train outside at London Colney on Wednesday morning as the rest of the squad prepared for the trip to Germany, where striker Olivier Giroud should be involved following his thigh injury along with goalkeeper David Ospina, who has recovered from a groin problem, and forward Danny Welbeck.

With the Gunners already qualified out of Group H for the knockout stage, manager Arsene Wenger is expected to again give his young players a chance to impress, with the likes of 17-year-old Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock all expected to feature in the squad.

Provisional Squad: Ospina, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers, Debuchy, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Elneny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Welbeck, Macey, Willock, Nketiah, Giroud, Osei-Tutu, McGuane, Sheaf, Akpom, Da Silva

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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."

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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