Walcott focused on European qualification

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Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is demanding his side qualify for the Champions League this season so they can continue competing with Europe's elite.

The Gunners currently occupy third place in the Premier League, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur and five ahead of Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Seven consecutive wins thrusted Arsenal into the top three, but defeat to Queens Park Rangers has seen them pegged back by rivals Spurs, a defeat Walcott says his side must recover from.

"I think we've had an up and down, hot and cold season," he said.

"We've peaked in the last couple of months, obviously with that run of seven wins, and I think it's been frustrating at times at other great. I think we want to go to that next level.

"We want to be in the Champions League playing against the likes of AC Milan, Barcelona, and the top four. We don't want the situation of [relying on other team's results], we just want to concentrate on ourselves and I think that's important.

"We'd be hurt [if we didn't finish in the top four] but that's negative thinking, we don't like to think outside the box, we like to think all positive.

"But if that did happen, you know it would be very disappointing, but us players are going to be fully committed and make sure that definitely doesn't happen."

Their slow start to the season was attributed to a flurry of signings in the twilight of the transfer window, with the likes of Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun moving to the Emirates Stadium on deadline day.

The Gunners began to recover during the New Year though, with victory over Blackburn Rovers sparking a run of seven straight wins, which saw them leapfrog Tottenham.

Walcott says the combination of players returning from injury, and new signing bedding in has contributed to their success.

"I think we've had a lot more trust in each other, been more honest on the pitch and off the pitch, and I think that's helped the team," he added.

"A lot of players have broken through and come out of their shells completely and that's been an absolute credit to them, as people and as players.

"We're getting a lot of injured players back. You know when you have Jack [Wilshere] out for the whole season it doesn't help us at all either. You want all your players fit and playing at their full potential.

"I think when you sign players it always takes a bit of time for them to settle in. The likes of Mikel Arteta and Andre Santos have just come back to fitness. Per Mertesacker's had a lot of injuries this season.

"Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had his chance and taken it every time he plays, which is great. I would say Mikel has been fantastic. But not just those players. [Alex] Song is always going to be that man in front of the back four, but he's been on assists a lot more than in previous years."

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European News
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Theo Walcott

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