Theo Walcott says that the players rather than Arsene Wenger should shoulder the blame for the team’s poor performance this season.

Arsenal are currently third in the Premier League table but could find themselves out of the top four before they face league champions Manchester United on Sunday. 

They will be depending on either Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur dropping points over the course of the remaining games if they are to qualify for the Champions League

Wenger is likely to come under harsh criticism if the Gunners don’t make the cut but Walcott has insisted that it is only the players to blame for the poor results.

Walcott told The Mirror: “He obviously puts his message and tactics across at training, but if we don’t do the job on a weekend, it can’t be down to the manager. 

“We need to step up ourselves and not always let the manager take the blame.

“He always puts it back on himself and protects the team, but us players know that we’re the ones who go out there and play. We do the job.”

Arsenal will face United without their main striker on Sunday as Olivier Giroud received a red card against Fulham and the appeal against the three-match ban failed. 

Wenger therefore has a tough decision of who he’ll deploy down the middle. 

Walcott was given the chance to prove himself up front earlier in the season after he insisted upon it. The winger did fairly well but seemed to struggle against deep-lying defences. 

But whether Walcott plays in his customary position on the wing or as striker, the young Englishman has vowed to repay Wenger for the faith he has shown in his players. He also says that the Frenchman doesn’t hesitate to reprimand players for poor performance.

“He lets us know [if we haven’t performed well] the following day, that’s for sure. There have been a couple of those this year.

“People think he doesn’t let loose, but he can - just in quite a calm way. We all understand how much it means to him, as well as to us, and how much belief he has in us. That should be enough to spur us on to do it for him.”

Podolski has also demanded a chance down the middle and perhaps the German deserves a starting berth in that role as he has proved his goal scoring ability over the course of the season. His pace, control and knack to hold the ball up could work in his favour as striker. 

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