Wenger in no rush over Walcott contract
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Theo Walcott's hat-trick in a 7-3 win over Newcastle has not hastened his desire to extend his contract.
Talks between Arsenal and Walcott have been ongoing for much of the season with the 23-year-old's deal set to run out at the end of the campaign.
The English winger-cum-striker has scored 10 goals in 10 starts for Arsenal since assuming a more central role and is free to speak to other clubs from next week when the January transfer window opens on Tuesday.
But despite his starring role at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger said talks would not change as a result of Walcott's sterling performance despite the manager being somewhat in awe of his recent efforts.
"My desire is to extend his contract, he belongs here and hopefully we can do it," Wenger said.
"Should he have had a disastrous game today, it would not have altered my determination to extend his contract.
"The club loves him. The intensity of my desire (to extend his contract) is exactly the same as it was before the game."
Walcott scored the opener and two in the second half as Arsenal broke open a 3-3 deadlock with four late goals in a breathless match.
Wenger said Walcott's goals were a testament to the player after he had called for a central striker's role.
"Today just typifies what I think he can do through the middle," he said.
"He has become a good finisher. He has learned a lot because he is an intelligent player and because he is intelligent he will continue to improve."
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew felt his side were simply overrun in the final 20 minutes after equalising three times.
Newcastle have now lost seven of their past nine games in all competitions including last week's gutting 4-3 loss at Manchester United and the late battering at Arsenal.
"I thought when we got back to 3-3 we should have shut up shop," Pardew said.
"The last 15-20 minutes was a fresh team against a tired team and perhaps a bit of inexperience on our bench resulted in the scoreline.
"We're just so disappointed that we didn't get something out of it before then.
"For 70 minutes it was pretty tight, I thought we were giving a good account of ourselves but their freshness and the brightness towards the end of the game was just too much for us and we couldn't cope."