Arsenal 5 Tottenham 2: Wenger praise for ‘tremendous’ Walcott
Arsenal 5 Tottenham 2: Arsene Wenger hails Theo Walcott's display as Gunners come from behind to beat 10-man Spurs
Arsene Wenger reserved special praise for Theo Walcott after the forward helped Arsenal down 10-man Tottenham in Saturday’s north London derby.
Walcott’s cross set up Per Mertresacker’s equaliser after Emmanuel Adebayor had put Spurs ahead, with the England international netting a fifth late on to cap a memorable display at The Emirates.
“Theo was tremendous from the first to the last minute,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “I’m happy that he scored a goal as well, in the end he finished as centre-forward and I’m happy that he scored a goal in that position.”
Wenger insisted that he still wants to keep Walcott at Arsenal, with the 23-year-old now in the final year of his contract. He added: “I haven’t changed my mind on him. It’s been a long time and I say always I will try to keep him.”
Adebayor was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Santi Cazorla in the 17th minute, with the Gunners then racing into a 3-1 lead before half-time thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
The Gunners then added a fourth through Cazorla before Walcott added further gloss to the scoreline after Gareth Bale had pulled one back for the visitors.
Wenger was proud of his side’s display and played down the significance of Adebayor’s sending-off.
“It’s difficult to know how much he [Adebayor] has influenced the game,” said Wenger, whose side leapfrog Spurs into sixth place in the table. “I’ve seen it again and it is a red card.
“It’s a big win. I promised you goals before the game and you were not disappointed.
“They had a good start but after that we have shown belief, spirit and quality. Even if they were down to 10 men, you could see that we were coming into the game and creating chances.
“It was a great win and a great score that will strengthen our belief again.”
Wenger added: “It’s sometimes even more difficult when you play against 10 men because they sit back in the final third. But we have the quality in our passing, we are a very creative team and I was confident that we could play through the lines.
“But Spurs are a good team and we needed quality to break them down.
“I have a great confidence in this team. They have something special and I was always confident that would come out but we want to show that now in a consistent way.”