Wenger deployed Walcott as Arsenal’s lone hitman for the third game running and the move paid off handsomely as the 23-year-old bagged three well-taken goals and set up two more to lift the Gunners back up to fourth position in the Premier League.
On Saturday, Wenger talked up Walcott’s ability to convert himself from a winger to a top striker — just as Henry did — and the former Southampton man has now racked up four goals in his last three games in the role. Walcott’s desire to play centrally is thought to be key to his chances of signing an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the season, and Wenger remains hopeful that Walcott will not leave.
The Arsenal manager said: “My desire is to extend his contract. I think he belongs here. Hopefully we can do it. “I think he loves the club and the club loves him and the reciprocity in love is the most difficult to find.”
Henry, who is training with Arsenal, rose to his feet to applaud Walcott after he broke from the half way line and slotted past Tim Krul to put Arsenal ahead. A glut of goals then followed. Newcastle equalised through Demba Ba, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then scored to make it 2-1 to Arsenal before Ba grabbed his second to make it 2-2. Lukas Podolski and Sylvain Marveaux then cancelled each other out with their strikes before Walcott set Olivier Giroud up for both his strikes and then added two of his own — the last one a wonderful chip over Krul.