sport

Walcott earns the plaudits

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Theo Walcott after his hat-trick in the 7-3 mauling of Newcastle.

Walcott played in a striking berth for the Gunners and his manager is confident he can produce a partnership with Olivier Giroud.

Wenger believes the versatility of the 23-year-old is his greatest asset, as he looks to extend Walcott's contract at the club.

"We cannot ask much more than three goals and the performance he gave today," Wenger said.

"I said I'm convinced that he can play in there - he has qualities - and he can only improve the more he plays there.

"He can play in the other position on the left, right or through the middle and it is good because Giroud is basically a centre-forward only so I can play the two together."

Wenger also praised Newcastle for their contribution to the match, and admitted the result flattered Arsenal.

"It was not as comfortable as the score indicated," he added. "We played against a good team. They were always a threat going forwards, they gave us many problems."