Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott’s red-hot start to the Premier League season is the result of the England attacker developing greater mental strength.
Walcott has five goals in eight league appearances after scoring a brace in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium.
The Swans fought back twice in new manager Bob Bradley’s Premier League debut, but Mesut Ozil’s strike proved crucial as the Gunners held out with 10 men following Granit Xhaka’s dismissal.
Wenger was quizzed pre-match on Walcott’s frame of mind after turning in a pair of anonymous performances for England – in great contrast to his club form – during the international break, but the Frenchman backed his player’s ability to respond, faith that was richly rewarded come the weekend.
Asked if Walcott was a “little more resilient” in 2016-17, Wenger replied: “I would cut the ‘little’ bit off in your sentence and just say he’s much more resilient, and not a little bit.
“He could have had a hat-trick, or even four, because he had another chance from [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“But he scored two goals. I think he’s got seven now, that’s quite encouraging.”
Wenger also hopes Ozil’s winner can spark a run of regular scoring.
The Germany star has three goals to his name already this season, having registered his best goal return for the Gunners last season with eight strikes in all competitions.
“When you see Ozil finishing today, you think a little bit that he doesn’t take his chances to shoot enough,” Wenger added.
“When you see him in training, he scores basically when he wants.
“You speak with the keepers and he’s one of the most difficult players to predict where he’ll put the ball. In the game, I’m happy that he gets goals and I hope that gives him the taste to try more.”
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