Arsenal boss Wenger: Walcott development well ahead of schedule

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has dismissed critics of his 21 year-old attacker Theo Walcott.

Wenger has defended his striker and says he's ahead of where most players would be at his tender age.

"He is at a level where others start to play in the Premier League," the manager told arsenal.com. "So he is still ahead of a planned career normally.

"I believe you can always win every battle - just show up with a good performance.

"I have seen so many great players in my life. They have all been questioned; Lampard, Gerrard - Rooney has been questioned at 20, Zidane had been questioned at 20. But it is down to the players to answer on the pitch with their performance.

"It was a one-day performance but I believe personally that Theo has the quality to repeat those kind of performances and that is what he has to show on the football pitch.

"Theo has a quality, apart from football qualities. He is mentally strong, he is fit on the ground, he is intelligent. He was unlucky many times with long-term injuries but it helped him to mature.

"At 17 if you go to a World Cup there is a lot of hype around you and you have to deal with that. I feel that he dealt with that very well.

"For the rest, if you are fit on the ground and fit on earth, turn up on Saturday and have a great game and that is the best way to get everybody on board."