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Ox backs Walcott to lead the line

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes Arsenal and England team-mate Theo Walcott is capable of leading the club's attack into the future - provided he signs a contract extension with the Gunners.

Walcott has impressed in starting three games over the festive period as a central striker. The -year-old scored against Reading, earned his side the decisive penalty versus Wigan and finished the week with a hat-trick in Arsenal's 7-3 thrashing of Newcastle.

Arsene Wenger likened Walcott's performance to one of Thierry Henry's on the weekend, and Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks there can be no doubt that his team-mate can follow in the Frenchman's footsteps and go on to become a top striker.

"He definitely has all the attributes to play up front,'' said Oxlade-Chamberlain. "The goals are coming. He has proven he can do a really good job for us up there.

"For someone with his pace it's hard for anyone to defend against and when he gets the service he can always punish teams so he's doing really well.

"His performance was amazing. You could see after his first goal he had a spring in his step but he has been like that all season. He has been brilliant."

Walcott turned down a new contract - reported to be worth £75,000 a week - in the summer and has failed to reach an agreement with the club ever since. After scoring 14 goals in all competitions this term, Walcott's future is now the subject of intense debate.

"Even with all the speculation that's going on, he's stuck to his work,'' Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"He's a great professional, a good mate and a good lad around the dressing room. ''We need him to keep (scoring goals) for as long as he can.

"We've all been giving him a bit of banter (about his contract) but that's for Theo's people and himself to sort out with whoever is involved.''

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