When Theo Walcott went down late in the second half of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round victory over North London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates, it didn’t seem the England winger
When Theo Walcott went down late in the second half of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round victory over North London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates, it didn’t seem the England winger was in too much discomfort and after taunting the Spurs contingent with hand gestures depicting the score line as he was stretchered off the pitch, you would have been safe in thinking Walcott was in for a swift return.
How cruel football can be. What seemed an innocuous knee injury, turned out to be the end of Walcott’s season and a side-line view of a summer World Cup for the third successive time.
Time: Not on Wenger’s side
Walcott must be in sorts at the moment and you wouldn’t blame his club manager Arsene Wenger for feeling the same way. But whilst Walcott has the time of the minimum six-month lay off required for any sort of recovery of an ACL (Anterior Crucial Ligament) injury to get over the mental anguish, Wenger has no such ironic luxury.
This situation is not new to the Frenchman. He has seen it before too many times in fact in his almost 18 year reign. What Wenger can’t allow is for a season which has promised so much so far get away from him and his players as it did in 2008.
In February 2008 the Gunners were top of the league, in the last 16 of the Champions League and the fifth round of the FA Cup. The season was going beyond expectations but was curtailed five minutes into their match with Birmingham at St. Andrews when a challenge on their then centre forward Eduardo left the Croatian with a double fractured broken leg. The incident was too much for the Arsenal players to handle and they ended up losing the title by four points.
They can’t allow the same thing to happen here. Walcott’s impact since returning from an abdominal injury that kept him out for two months has been exceptional. He has contributed in almost all of Arsenal’s games since his return scoring five and assisting three but he is not irreplaceable.
Theo Walcott brings pace to Arsenal. The pure fear defenders have of his speed means that they don’t risk bombing forward and leaving space for him to exploit knowing well and truly they won’t catch him. This in turn creates space for midfielders such as Santi Cazorla whose recent run of form is not coincidental with Walcott’s return to the side.
But in their squad Arsenal have adequate replacement, one of which starred over the FA Cup win over Spurs, Serge Gnabry. The 18-year-old German is one of the most promising players in the Gunners’ side and now has to rise to the occasion in Walcott’s absence.
To buy, or not to buy?
The other is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who himself just returned to full training after a lengthy spell with a knee injury. The Englishman has been out of action since the first of game of the season but will be chopping at the bits to not only nail down a place in the Arsenal side, but force his way in Roy Hodgson’s England plans.
The other option for Arsene Wenger is to buy. January is never a time where the most prestigious players are on the market, but Wenger’s hand may be forced by this recent setback. With Giroud lacking form and Bendtner also looking at time on the injury table, the January transfer market may be a safe haven. Players like Colombian star Jackson Martinez and Atletico Madrid hot shot Diego Costa have been linked but whatever Wenger decides he must do so fast.
The quicker he gets bodies in, the quicker they’ll set in and the better equipped they become to push Arsenal forward for honours.
Speedy recovery Theo.
What do you think? How will the injury of Theo Walcott affect the rest of Arsenal’s season? Have your say in the comments section below.