Wenger hopeful of Walcott extension

Arsene Wenger is hopeful that Theo Walcott will remain at Arsenal amid reports the forward is set to begin contract talks.

Walcott has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium, with Liverpool among the clubs said to be interested in the England international.

The 26-year-old last month rubbished talk of a bust-up with Wenger, but stated he had not yet entered negotations over a new deal with just over a year remaining on his current contract.

Arsenal manager Wenger on Thursday tipped Walcott to get back to his best after a frustrating season, during which he returned from a serious knee injury, and is eager for the former Southampton man to extend his stay at the London club.

He told reporters: "I believe he will have a great future and I want him to stay here.

"Walcott is getting better every week and will have a great goalscoring record in the future."

Wenger also revealed Wojciech Szczesny will start Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Reading, but Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) remain sidelined due to injury.