Football - Wenger hails Theo after thriller

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was thrilled with Theo Walcott's performance in his side's memorable 7-3 win over Newcastle, although the Frenchman hinted he is not yet ready to pick the 23-year-old in a regular striking berth.

PA Sport

Wenger had talked up Walcott as the next Thierry Henry and the England forward - still to pen a new deal with the club - did little to disprove that idea, scoring three excellent goals and setting up two more to give Arsenal the win that ensures they will end 2012 in fifth place.

"We cannot ask much more than three goals and the performance he gave," Wenger said.

"I said I'm convinced that he can play in there - he has qualities - and he can only improve the more he plays there.

"He can play in the other position on the left, right or through the middle and it is good because Giroud is basically a centre-forward only so I can play the two together."

Wenger was also quick to hail Newcastle's resilience, although he lamented his side's slow start.

"It was not as comfortable as the score indicated," he added. "We played against a good team. They were always a threat going forwards, they gave us many problems.

"I believe we started a bit nervous, not completely relaxed, and at half-time 1-1 was a fair result.

"Second half we were on the ball higher up and were much more dangerous but they always came back."

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