Walcott could be new Henry

Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott could soon make the transition from winger to out-and-out striker after scoring more goals this season, according to his manager Arsene Wenger.

Following a stop-start career with the Gunners that has been hindered by injuries, Walcott has shone so far this season with performances that have led to his manager comparing him to Arsenal great Thierry Henry.

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Before Wednesday’s Champions League fixture at Shakhtar Donetsk, Walcott had scored seven goals, including a hat-trick against Blackpool in the Premier League.

And he added another fine solo goal in Arsenal’s 2-1 loss in Ukraine, following a brace against Newcastle in the Carling Cup.

“Theo can be a prolific goalscorer,” Wenger told reporters. “Once he is a yard in front of the defender no-one can catch him.

“He is very, very close to playing that striker role. But when you play with only one up front you like a guy who is good in the air as sometimes you kick it longer.

“Still, look at the two goals he scored against Newcastle, they are from a typical striker who plays on a counter-attack. But most of the time we face teams with a different problem."

Although Wenger has admitted that there are similarities between Henry and Walcott, he has pleaded for patience from the fans and is focused on getting it right with the former Southampton starlet.

"It's difficult to compare the similarities,” said Wenger. “Is Thierry a replica of Theo? Is Theo a replica of Thierry? No. But they have in common tremendous pace, they are good finishers and both are intelligent.

"In England, you are very impatient. Henry came here at the age of 23 and Theo is 21. Give two more years to Theo and imagine what he will be. Don't forget that when Henry came here he was a winger. When I played him as a central striker, he said to me 'but I can't score goals’.

“However I knew Thierry when he was 14 and at 15 I knew he could score goals when he played central. Then I left Monaco and they moved him to the flank but I knew in my head he could do it.

"It looks to me now that Theo has a calmness in front of goal. Before he rushed his decision but now he is different."

By Matt Maltby