Arsene Wenger has backed Theo Walcott to put behind his struggles from last campaign and show his true potential for Arsenal in the upcoming season after the striker impressed during the Gunners' pre-season win over Manchester City on Sunday (7 August). The England international had a poor 2015/16 campaign, which saw him score just five goals in 28 Premier League appearances, which also saw him miss out on a place in the Three Lions' squad for Euro 2016.
Walcott's future at the club was brought into question, with supporters urging the manager to bolster the forward line after Olivier Giroud also struggled in the second-half of the season, which led to Arsenal's dropping out of the title race despite starting the year at the top of the table. Wenger, however, is confident that the former Southampton forward, who has been at the club for over a decade, will have a strong season to overcome the disappointments of the previous campaign.
The 27-year-old, who had urged the manager in the past to play him as a central striker, has now admitted that he sees himself as a right-winger, but Wenger believes he can flourish in the number nine role, and has continued to play him as a striker in Arsenal's pre-season games this summer. Walcott scored in the final two games against Viking FK and Manchester City, and it was in the latter that he struck a good understanding with Alexis Sanchez, but he was playing as a right-winger at the time with the Chilean occupying the central role.
"I've said many times that we will get a strong season from Theo Walcott because he got hit hard and I saw how he responded," Wenger told Arsenal's official site.
"He went through a very tough time not being at the Euros with England, and I I observed him, saw how he responded and I am convinced that he will have a great season."
"We had a good combination with him on the right and Alexis up front," the Frenchman added after the Gunners' 3-2 win over Manchester City in Sweden.
Wenger, however has confirmed that the club are active in the market to sign an attacker and another defender, and has been linked to a number of potential forward signings in recent weeks. Arsenal have had a bid rejected for Alexandre Lacazette, while the French manager also hinted at a potential move for Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez.