FA CUP final hero Theo Walcott has indicated he plans to extend his stay at Arsenal by signing a new contract but warned that the impasse may not be resolved for several weeks.
England forward Walcott scored the opening goal as the Gunners routed Aston Villa 4-0 to retain the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday and joined team-mates for a celebratory parade in north London yesterday.
The 26-year-old’s long-term future at the club has been clouded by stalling negotiations as his contract enters its final 12 months, while his appearances have also been limited by injury.
But Walcott played down doubts about his commitment on the victory procession, despite suggesting any deal would not be struck until after England’s fixture in Slovenia on 14 June. “I’m sure things will get resolved,” he said. “I just want to enjoy today. I have got England coming up and then we can think about that process, but it will take time, I’m sure.”
Walcott echoed the sentiments of several colleagues when he said that Arsenal expect to mount a sustained challenge for Chelsea’s Premier League crown next season.
“It has been a great success this year,” he added. “It has been a step up, to finish third and win the FA Cup in consecutive years. We want more and more of this. These players have the trust in each other and this has got to be a stepping stone now to challenge for the title, because this is what all of these fans dream of. We need to do it for them, they have waited a long time.”
Top scorer Alexis Sanchez, captain Per Mertesacker and substitute Olivier Giroud added to Walcott’s strike as Arsenal claimed a record-breaking 12th FA Cup.
England are due to travel to Slovenia for a European Championship qualifying fixture seven days after playing Republic of Ireland in a friendly in Dublin on Sunday.
VICTORY IN NUMBERS
12 FA Cup wins
Arsenal moved ahead of Manchester United in the list of most FA Cup wins with victory over Aston Villa on Saturday
6 Wenger wins
Arsene Wenger is the first post-war manager to lift the FA Cup six times, having also won in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2014
4 Multiple retainers
Arsenal are one of just four clubs to have retained the cup more than once, along with Bolton, Blackburn and Spurs
21 Winning margin
The Gunners’ winning margin was the biggest in the final for 21 years, when Manchester United also beat Chelsea 4-0