Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has heaped praise on Alexis Sanchez following his return to the starting XI against Hull City on Sunday, insisting that forging a strong relationship with the Chilean maestro is one of his top priorities for 2015.
Walcott made a welcome, overdue return to the Arsenal side in the FA Cup third-round victory, 12 months to the day since his last start in the same stage of the competition against Tottenham Hotspur.
The £100,000-a-week Gunners star lasted 75 minutes in a comfortable 2-0 win, which finally gave Arsenal fans their first chance to see an attack featuring two speed demons in Walcott and Sanchez. That proposition clearly excites the England international, who is ready to bide his time in search of big-match sharpness over the next few weeks.
'Special player' Sanchez a joy to play with
In his post-match interview following a big return to first-team action Walcott was quickly asked about man-of-the-match Sanchez, telling BBC Sport: 'He's a special player,' Walcott told the BBC. 'It's great to finally get on the pitch with him and I'm sure there's going to be a lot more appearances of me and him together.
'It's amazing (to be back). It's been a year now, it was good to blow cobwebs away. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself. It was nice to get a start and as long as I'm getting in those chances I'm pleased.'
Long road to recovery nearly complete
The last 12 months have been very difficult for Walcott, who had to watch Arsenal lift the FA Cup from the sidelines, before perhaps more painfully missing out on England's World Cup squad while undergoing rehab on a cruciate ligament injury.
Walcott briefly returned for two brief substitute appearances in November before suffering a groin problem training with England, which even more frustratingly forced him to miss a further seven matches.
The birth of his first child helped gave Walcott a welcome distraction from those professional woes though, with the emphasis now on making up for lost time and finding top gear in a terrifying new tandem with Sanchez before the end of the season.
"Mentally the main target is to see how you can cope with your team-mates going out to training and your the only one in the rehab room its difficult like that but I had a lot of personal things in my life that took my mind off it."
Sanchez continues sensational form
While Walcott found his feet Arsenal were once again able to rely on Sanchez to deliver against the Tigers, scoring his 16th goal of the season with a wonderful curling effort after combining with chief creator Santi Cazorla.
Sanchez continues to look an absolute snip at £35 million and definitely a contender for PFA player of the year on current form, but Arsenal need players to take the goal burden of the Chilean superstar's shoulders heading into 2015.
Walcott is certainly capable of doing just that at his very best, but patience is required as he works his way back towards regular first-team contention.
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