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Jan 21, 2013

Walcott never wanted to leave Arsenal

Having committed his long-term future to Arsenal by signing a new deal, Theo Walcott has insisted he never wanted to leave the club.

• Blog: Arsenal: A team of one half

England international Walcott's future had been a hot topic of debate since the summer, as he had entered the final year of his contract with no fresh agreement in place.

The forward could have wound down his contract and left for free in the summer, while there had been talk of transfers to Liverpool and Manchester United.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had been steadfast in his belief that Walcott would sign a new deal and he was vindicated at the end of last week.

Walcott has admitted his relief that the deal is done and claimed his focus had always been on staying with Arsenal.

"I am very pleased," Walcott told Arsenal Player. "For the last three games before [the Chelsea match] it was sort of done, but it was on my mind and had been for a long time because it was so close.

"It is difficult to play and block out that side of it, but I tried to do the best I could and hopefully everyone was happy with what I did. I always wanted to stay and I am happy that myself and the club have come to an agreement.

"There has been so much speculation for so long, and I am very pleased my future is sorted. But it is all about the present now."

With his new contract now signed, Walcott is eager to find consistent scoring form, suggesting Wednesday night's re-arranged Premier League game against West Ham has become a 'must win' for Arsene Wenger's side.

"There are a lot of teams that have got stronger this year, so we need to step on the gas," Walcott said. "We don't want to be playing catch-up. We want to get points on the board. We have a tough game at home against West Ham so we need to be ready. It is a massive game, we have home support and we need to start clocking up points there.

"We have been hot and cold at home of late so we must be very positive and if we show the commitment that we did in the second half against Chelsea we should be fine. We need to show that character to win from the start, not when we concede a goal."

Wenger has joined Walcott in stressing the significance of the game against the Hammers, admitting the moment has arrived for his side to show their battling qualities.

"Of course we are concerned (by our position)," Wenger said. "It's very difficult to accept because you feel there is a lot of quality in the team but football is (about) efficiency and spirit of efficiency. You cannot test the water and then decide what you do. We have to start with full cylinders from the first minute.

"The quality is there. I always hope that it will strengthen the belief of our team. At the moment we have a battle on that front and hopefully we'll sort that out very quickly."

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