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May 2, 2013

Walcott desperate for central role

Theo Walcott believes now is the right time for him to play through the middle up front for Arsenal in the absence of striker Olivier Giroud.

• Blog: Arsenal wary of QPR
• Blog: Wenger staying

Walcott has been deployed on the right wing by manager Arsene Wenger for the majority of his Arsenal career, a position where he scored from against Premier League champions Manchester United in the 1-1 draw on Sunday at the Emirates.

Giroud has been the main striker at the club since his summer move from Montpellier, but the Frenchman is currently in the middle of a three-game suspension.

Walcott has not played many times in a central role throughout the season, and the 24-year-old feels he can develop in that position if he is given more opportunities, especially with Giroud serving his ban.

"I played a few games there and I would like a few more towards the end of the season," Walcott is quoted as saying in the Evening Standard. "I got a lot of my goals when playing up front, so I have shown what I can do and it is up to the manager to do what he sees is best."

Walcott has struck 19 goals in total this season, his best seasonal tally to date, and is hopeful of more games in the central role up front in order to achieve one of the aims he set himself before the campaign got underway.

"I am sure another chance will come. I set a 20-goal target for the season but the biggest goal for me is to help Arsenal finish third or fourth," he added.

Arsenal occupy fourth spot in the Premier League and trail Chelsea by a point. The Gunners are two points clear of Tottenham, but they along with Chelsea have played one game less than Arsenal as the race for places in next year's Champions League nears its conclusion. And Walcott believes the Arsenal defence is key as to whether they will secure a top-four finish.

"What it comes down to is that if you keep clean sheets, you are going to win games," he said. "In recent years we may have faded slightly at the end of games, with the pressure of being 1-0 up, but everyone here is very focused on doing their jobs correctly. If we all work hard for each other, then good things should follow."

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