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Wenger aware of Carroll threat

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is well aware of the threat Andy Carroll will pose his side when they meet West Ham on Saturday, but insists they should only worry about their own game.

• Preview: West Ham v Arsenal
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Carroll, 23, returned to action as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Monday, after picking up a hamstring injury on his Hammers debut in September.

Wenger knows what damage the striker can cause after he scored the winner for Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium in November 2010.

Yet despite his qualities, the Gunners boss believes his team must concentrate on their own performance if they want to get their Premier League campaign back on track, after last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

"Carroll has the quality and that will come out with time," Wenger said. "We expect Carroll to be at his best - it is down to us to deal with that. We can only focus on our own performance and be at our best.''

"I rate Carroll, and don't think we have seen the best of him until now. He started very well, then he had to deal with a high level of expectation with a massive transfer on his shoulders (to Liverpool) going to an historic club where a lot was expected of him. Maybe it was a bit too early for him.

"Since I have seen him at West Ham, he looks back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, that means with less pressure.''

While Arsenal may have lost their own talisman striker, following the £24million sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United, the Gunners have been able to call upon Gervinho for goals this season.

Wenger has made the bold move of playing the Ivory Coast international down the middle, rather than on the flanks, and so far it has paid dividends with the striker hitting five goals in as many games.

"The thinking was to use well his quality of movement and his pace, but of course you have to overcome a little bit an obstacle that he doesn't correspond well to traditional image you have of a central striker,'' Wenger said.

"He is not massive, he is not a guy who will go for high balls, but he can only try and I must say, he has improved his finishing and it is working very well at the moment.''

Wenger has a proud history of developing widemen and transforming them into formidable strikers.

And the Frenchman will hope that Gervinho can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Thierry Henry, while he also dropped a hint for the first time that Theo Walcott may be given the chance he craves to play down the middle.

"I did that with Robin van Persie. He was more a technical player, it was not obvious to put him central striker," Wenger added. "I did it with Thierry Henry, I did it now with Gervinho and I think I will do it as well with Theo Walcott.

"They have other qualities that is well suited to our game - our game is based on movement and technical ability and they have that.''


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