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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Arsenal's Theo Walcott 'matured' into a more 'intelligent' player - Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hailed Theo Walcott's maturity on the pitch and believes his side are benefitting from a better all-round player this season.

Walcott, 27, found the back of the net on Saturday -- his third goal in six Premier League matches this season -- as the Gunners beat Chelsea 3-0 to record their first win over their London rivals since 2011.

The England international endured a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, often finding himself on the Arsenal bench and missing out on a place at Euro 2016, but Wenger feels he has put such disappointments behind him and developed into a more complete player.

"He's matured," Wenger is quoted as saying by The Times. "When a player survives this type of disappointment from what was promised for him at 16 [when he first burst onto the scene], the way he dealt with the situation I always felt there was something special in this guy.

"He's intelligent, Theo. He assesses well his own performances. He's 27, it's a very important age.

Theo Walcott has scored three goals in six Premier League matches this season.

"He used to be 90 percent forward and 10 percent defending. Today he's 50-50. He does the job both ways and he does it with commitment.

"I always felt there's character and intelligence in this boy. He's a guy with a good assessment of his performances and qualities. I said at the start of the season that we'd see a different Theo Walcott. I could see he made a decision and sticks to it."

Walcott's international career has been littered with disappointments and Wenger admits they have taken their toll on the player.

"What was a big blow for him was not to go to the Euros [in the summer]," Wenger said. "He went at 16 to the World Cup in 2006 [and didn't play]. He was not picked for 2010 [and was injured in 2014]. We are now at 2016 and he hasn't been to another World Cup."

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