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Football | Barclays Premier League

Walcott ready to clip Swans' wings



Theo Walcott believes he is now demonstrating a true striker's instinct, highlighting why the winger's contract negotiations are coming to dominate Arsenal's season.

Walcott scored his tenth goal of the campaign at Everton to secure the draw that ensures Arsene Wenger's side face Swansea at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday one point and one place above the Welsh club in seventh position.

But if the quality of Walcott's finish underlined his value to the side, the fact it came after it had emerged the player had not been included on the club's 2013 calendar confirmed his Arsenal future remains in the balance.

Walcott is a free agent at the end of the season, with talks about a new deal having stalled over the player's wage demands.

His recent form, however, has reinforced his bargaining position and, according to Walcott, there is much more to come.

"Those are the sort of positions (at Everton) that this season and in the last few seasons I have been quite deadly in," said the England international.

"When given a little sniff I am able to take it now. The goals (I have scored) show that.

"I think I scored 11 last season and 13 the year before. Not just that, but my general play (is getting better) as well. The assists are coming now, which is fantastic, and I am enjoying my football.

"I am very happy with the way I have started and it has got to continue. Hopefully I will take it into Saturday's game."

Arsenal certainly need an in-form Walcott now after a run that has brought one win in five Premier League games and left them five points behind fourth spot.

An improving Swansea side will provide a stern test but Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen believes the Gunners have demonstrated the kind of attitude in recent weeks that can help revive their form and move them up the table.

"Mentality-wise, there is nothing wrong with the team," said Vermaelen.

"Everybody works hard and there is no one who doesn't work for the team, and that will give you results. From that point of view I am very happy."

Vermaelen has been operating at left back but with Laurent Koscielny facing a three week absence after injuring his groin at Everton, will shift back into central defence with Kieran Gibbs coming in at full-back.

There may be a change on the right hand side of the back four as well, with Bacary Sagna doubtful with a foot injury.

Swansea's 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion means they have lost just once in nine games across all competitions and was an ideal tonic ahead of their trip to the Emirates Stadium.

"We can go there with confidence," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup. "There is no pressure on us at all, we go there as underdogs and everyone will expect Arsenal to win," the Denmark great added.

Wayne Routledge scored twice against West Brom as the club took its points tally to 20, a mark the winger believes to be a significant milestone as the Welsh side attempts to consolidate its position in the Premier League.

"We have 20 points from 14 games which is a great start, but we need to continue that," said the winger.

"To be at that tally before Christmas is a big achievement for us. Hopefully we can continue that form and pick up more points before Christmas."

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