Theo Walcott has defended comments he made after captaining Arsenal to a demoralising defeat against Crystal Palace in April.
Walcott captained the Gunners as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat against a relegation-battling Palace, at a point when Arsenal were fighting to qualify for the Champions League.
The striker stated after the match that their hosts “just wanted it more“, which met widespread criticism.
Speaking on Sunday, Walcott defended his comments.
“I was the captain for the day – no-one else was going to come out and I felt like I had to say something,” he said. “It’s out there and it doesn’t really matter. The team went on to do considerably quite well after all those games. There was a reaction and that’s what we wanted.
“I’m an honest guy. I’ve been around the game a long time and I say what’s on my mind. Especially last year, even more so and I said what’s on my mind. I’m very honest, that’s the way I am.”
Walcott scored 19 goals last season, all of which came before that fateful April evening.
The 28-year-old played just four of a possible ten games thereafter, starting only one, as many claimed that he had been dropped by Arsene Wenger for his comments.
“If I turned the season on its head, scored the goals that I did, played the games, I would have taken that because I got 19, considering the season before,” Walcott said.
“I was disappointed with the way it ended. But I was happy for the team, winning the FA Cup, when you’re trying to get back into the team, the team’s winning, then it’s always going to be difficult because there’s so much competition and will continue to be like that.
“This season there has to be more. It has to be this season, there’s no holding back now and there’s going to be a lot more pressure but I think we can deal with it.”