Theo Walcott feels he has shown manager Arsene Wenger he has what it takes to play a central striker's role as Arsenal look to secure a top-four finish. The Gunners must again do without 17-goal hitman Olivier Giroud when they travel to relegated Queens Park Rangers for Saturday's late afternoon kick-off as the Frenchman continues his three-match ban.
German Lukas Podolski was preferred down the middle against Manchester United last Sunday, but it was Walcott who fired the home side ahead inside two minutes before the new Premier League champions recovered to draw. Walcott, 24, is the club's leading scorer with 19 in all competitions, which included hat-tricks against Reading and Newcastle United.
The pacy English international hopes to make the most of any more opportunities which come his way. "I played a few games there and I would like a few more towards the end of the season," Walcott said in the official Arsenal matchday programme. "I scored a lot of my goals this season when playing up front, so I have shown what I can do and it is up to the manager to do what he sees is best.
"I am sure another chance will come. I set a 20-goal target for the season, but the biggest goal for me is to help Arsenal finish third or fourth."
Podolski produced a solid display at the head of the Arsenal attack against United, if without any real chances to add to his 14 goals, and was replaced by Gervinho for the closing stages. Wenger accepts he has a tactical decision to make again this weekend, but feels Podolski has all the attributes need to lead the line effectively.
"I believe so, he has the qualities because he is a good finisher," Wenger said on Arsenal's official website. "He has a good technique and because we have a game based on very quick combinations, I believe he can be a part of that. Overall I am convinced in the coming games he will show it. A definite decision has not been made, but if there is an opportunity then there is a good chance I will do it."
Wenger pleased with attacking output
Wenger feels collectively the team deserves credit for continuing to maintain an attacking threat, with 99 goals from 50 games in all competitions this season, despite the departure of talisman forward Robin van Persie for United last summer.
"You want to know that you can score at least two goals in every game because it gives you a good belief," the Gunners boss said. "Overall, and considering we lost a world-class striker, I believe we have compensated quite well."
Arsenal's much-maligned defence has also tightened up as the Gunners moved through an unbeaten eight-match run which has taken them back into the top four of the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea and two ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, albeit having played a match more.
Walcott believes having a much-more settled rearguard - which has often seen captain Thomas Vermaelen left on the bench - provides the basis of consistency. "What it comes down to is that if you keep clean sheets, you are going to win games," Walcott said. "The likes of Manchester United have shown that very effectively.
"In recent years we may have faded slightly at the end of games with the pressure of being 1-0 up, losing late on at Fulham last season for example. But I think everyone here is very focused on doing their jobs correctly. If we all work hard for each other then good things should hopefully follow."