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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Walcott signs new Gunners deal

Arsenal starlet Theo Walcott has signed a new long-term contract with the Premier League club.

The 20-year-old England international, who joined the Gunners from Southampton in January 2006, is reported to have agreed a four-year deal worth £60,000-a-week.

Walcott has now made more than 100 appearances and scored 14 goals for Arsenal and is in no doubt the Emirates Stadium is the best place for his career to develop.

"I am so happy here and just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this point in my career,'' Walcott said in a statement.

"Together with the belief of my team-mates, the boss and everyone on the staff, everyone has got behind me here at Arsenal which is brilliant.''

Walcott added: "It is fantastic to work with the best manager in the world and play at Emirates Stadium, which is an unbelievable place to play in.

"I just want to continue playing my football at this club and look forward to many successful seasons ahead.''

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger believes Walcott is integral to the club's future.

"Theo is an intelligent player with amazing ability and speed, and has developed extremely well this season,'' said the Gunners boss.

"At still only 20 years of age, Theo has huge potential for the forthcoming years and we are all looking forward to see him grow even more in an Arsenal shirt.''

Dutch striker Robin van Persie is set to follow suit with a new five-year deal in the next few weeks.

"I am hoping he will sign a new deal and I am trying very hard to get him to sign. I want Robin on board," said Wenger.

"He is a very important player in the squad and on the pitch he is a very efficient player."

Wenger added: "We want him to stay because we gave him a chance when he was in a very bad position at Feyenoord.

"I think he developed well here and I don't see a reason for him to go and he loves the club.

"We will let you know as soon as we get close."

Wenger maintains the club must do all they can to keep the players they have nurtured.

"You cannot imagine that we work as we did with young players and give them a chance, then let them go," he said.

"We are criticised because we play young players, then we are supposed to let them go when they are in a position where they start to perform at the top level? That is not acceptable."

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