Wenger: Theo's just getting started
Arsene Wenger is confident there is more to come from Theo Walcott after seeing him help fire Arsenal into the Carling Cup quarter-finals.
The flying England international forward helped himself to a double in his first start after injury as Wenger's men thumped Newcastle 4-0 at St James' Park on Wednesday night to book their place in the last eight.
Wenger said: "Theo Walcott is 21 years old - that's the age where other players start to play.
"He is a very young boy and he is a very intelligent player and that's why I believe he will continue to develop normally.
"He has tremendous pace and power and he is very good in front of goal.
"The timing of his run is good and for a striker, that's the most important."
The Gunners were worthy winners on Tyneside - where they were the third visitors in four to leave with all the spoils - as they surged into the last eight.
However, they were initially indebted to slice of good fortune and a controversial decision by referee Andre Marriner for the 2-0 lead they established with 53 minutes gone.
They got their noses in front in first-half-injury time when Ryan Taylor's attempted goal-line clearance hit keeper Tim Krul and ended up in the back of the net.
Newcastle's luck deserted them once again eight minutes after the restart when Nicklas Bendtner, who had run from an offside position, appeared to barge defender Mike Williamson aside as he attempted to intercept Walcott, and the striker took full advantage.
Beautifully-taken goals from Bendtner and Walcott in the final seven minutes meant the Magpies' complaints were academic, but manager Chris Hughton could be forgiven for wondering what might have been had Mr Marriner blown for Bendtner's challenge.
Wenger said: "I have to see if Bendtner did on purpose block the central defender or not, I have to see that again.
"But for me, Walcott was well in front of the central defender anyway, so I don't think that influenced the goal. But we will see.
"We were lucky with the first goal just before half-time - it was certainly a blow for Newcastle, and it put us in a position where we could break much more because Newcastle had to come out, and that's basically what happened in the second half."
Hughton was understandably unhappy with the second goal, but admitted his much-changed side - both managers retained only two players from their weekend fixtures - had been made to pay for naivety at times.
He said: "What you can't afford to do is concede when we did in that first half, just before half-time, which enabled them to come out in that second half with a little bit of the ascendancy.
"I have to say the second goal, I thought, was offside and most definitely if it wasn't we thought Mike Williamson was impeded.
"Of course at 2-0, you have got to open up your game a little bit to give yourselves a chance to get back in, and what you can't afford to do is make fundamental mistakes.
"Unfortunately we did and they had the quality to capitalise on them, but we showed a lot of spirit.
"It was a young side, it was a different side, but we certainly kept going to the end and had our own chances."
The defeat was far from ideal preparation for Sunday's derby clash with Sunderland, although Hughton is confident it will be a distant memory by the time Tyne-Wear hostilities are renewed.
He said: "We will put this one behind us because what we do have is a very big game on Sunday, and I can guarantee you that come Sunday, the lads will be very much focused and will know what the magnitude of the game is.
"We are aware, of course, it is still the same, it is still about three points, but we are delighted now to be back into this derby game and looking forward to it."