• Premier League

Wenger expects Walcott to emulate Henry

ESPN staff
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Theo Walcott scored twice against Newcastle © PA Photos
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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has backed Theo Walcott to emulate Thierry Henry after revealing that the England winger is "very, very close" to being moved into a striking role.

Although Walcott has played most of his football for the Gunners on the flank, he has proved his finishing qualities by chipping in with goals on a regular basis.

The 20-year-old looked reminiscent of Henry when he netted twice in Arsenal's Carling Cup win over Newcastle last week - and now Wenger has talked up the similarities between the players.

The Gunners manager was responsible for converting Henry from an effective winger into a devastating striker - he went on to become the Gunners' record scorer - and Walcott looks set for a similar switch.

"Theo can be a prolific goalscorer," Wenger said. "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. 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. Thierry 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 Thierry 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."

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