Wenger eyes successful 2013

Arsene Wenger has witnessed has upturn in fortunes at Arsenal recently. Photo: PA

Manager Arsene Wenger hopes 2013 will be the year that Arsenal confirm all the promise the Frenchman believes his team have.

The Gunners head to Southampton on New Year's Day on the back of a thrilling 7-3 win over Newcastle, which was a fourth straight Premier League success.

Wenger has had to endure one of the most testing spells of his 16-season tenure at Arsenal this season, including a Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out defeat to npower League Two side Bradford. However, there is now genuine optimism for the second half of the campaign as the Gunners are now back within striking distance of the top four and ready to tackle Bayern Munich for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"My hopes (for the new year) are that the win (over Newcastle) will give even more confidence, desire and ambition to our team, and that 2013 will confirm we are a great team," Wenger told Arsenal Player.

Theo Walcott bagged an impressive hat-trick against Newcastle and is relishing a chance to shine in his preferred central attacking role.

Despite the England international, 23, having yet to agree terms on a new contract with the Gunners, Wenger is glad to see Walcott enjoying his football.

"I have worked with Theo for seven years and the fact that he had an exceptional game against Newcastle will not influence me more or less - if he had played a disastrous game, I would still have wanted him to sign with the same intensity," Wenger said.

"It is good that he gets rewarded for his effort and for me that is more important."

Walcott will return to his old club tomorrow, along with midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was also on target against Newcastle.

Wenger is likely to rotate his squad at St Mary's, but could well opt to unleash Walcott down the middle once more.

"I like the fact Theo can play through the middle because it gives us more opportunities to do that and more possibilities to change from game to game. I will do it again," Wenger added.