Wenger: Walcott's 'best ever' performance

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Arsenal winger Theo Walcott played his best ever game in an Arsenal shirt against Newcastle, according to his manager Arsene Wenger.

The 22-year-old wide-man set up both Arsenal goals in their 2-1 win at the Emirates to help his side move to within one point of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Walcott provided a sharp early centre for Robin van Persie to equalise less than a minute after Hatem Ben Arfa had fired the Toon into a shock early lead. Arsenal then dominated the second half, squandering numerous chances before Walcott's right wing cross was swept home by Thomas Vermaelen deep into injury time.

The victory was the fourth consecutive Premier League game the Gunners had gone behind before coming back to win, and Wenger singled out the England winger for praise after he turned in a man-of-the-match display.

"He was outstanding from the first to the last minute. I feel it was his best performance for us. Against Milan, Theo was hitting top form and he has continued it tonight. He played with intelligence and power," commented the Arsenal boss.

"The equaliser was provided by Walcott. We speak many times of many other players and he deserves great credit this time because he was exceptional."

Walcott had come in for criticism earlier in the season as he and his team-mates struggled to maintain consistency. However, Arsenal's recent resurgence has coincided with an upturn in Walcott's own form and an improvement in results has seen the Gunners gain ground on third placed Spurs.

At one stage the gap between the north London rivals was as big as 10 points but last night's result at the Emirates cut the difference to a single point.

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