Thursday 23 November 2017

Walcott injury woe puts Wenger on alert for striker

Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0

Arsenal's Theo Walcott is stretchered off the pitch injured during the FA Cup Third Round match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Photo: PA.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott is stretchered off the pitch injured during the FA Cup Third Round match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Photo: PA.

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal's need to sign another striker has intensified amid fears that Theo Walcott will be out for the next month with knee ligament damage.

Walcott, who will almost certainly escape disciplinary action for his 2-0 gesture to the Tottenham fans during Saturday's north London derby, was carried off on a stretcher and the first assessment on his knee injury was not encouraging.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had hoped that Walcott had suffered only "a kick" but the initial indications are of a strained knee ligament.

A scan will be needed before that diagnosis can be confirmed but, if it does show the suspected ligament damage, Walcott would be out for around four weeks.

Nicklas Bendtner, another option as a striker, has also been ruled out for a month but Wenger is confident that Olivier Giroud will be recovered from both an ankle injury and illness in time for Arsenal's match against Aston Villa on this day week.

Even with all his options fully fit, Wenger had been actively exploring the January transfer market for strikers, but believes that it will be extremely difficult for him to add a player who can improve his squad.

Arsenal are interested in taking Alvaro Morata on loan from Real Madrid but their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is opposed to the deal.

Another option is Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa but, again, that would be a very difficult signing to complete in January. Atletico are still in the Champions League and mounting a serious challenge to Barcelona in La Liga, where Costa is currently surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo as the league's top scorer.

"All the big players are at big clubs at the moment and they go for important targets," said Wenger. "Unless you have a club in a desperate financial situation it will be difficult unless we find someone like (Serge) Gnabry at that age when no one knows them."

Bayern Munich have announced the signing of Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer at the end of the season and Wenger admitted that he had previously made an inquiry about the Poland striker.

Even though they have a replacement on his way, Wenger knows that Bayern Munich will not let Mario Mandzukic leave this month.

"We looked into it but honestly he (Lewandowski) signed one and a half years ago," said Wenger. "Lewandowski is at Dortmund until the end of the season and Bayern will not sell Mandzukic now. Maybe at the end of the season."

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen will also have a scan today amid fears that he too has damaged a ligament.

A positive for Arsenal following their victory over Tottenham, that was sealed with goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky, is that the FA is highly unlikely to launch formal disciplinary action for Walcott's gesture to the Spurs fans as he left the pitch.

Wenger pointed out how Walcott had not acted aggressively and was responding to coins and other missiles being thrown.

The FA is also awaiting the report of referee Mark Clattenburg before deciding whether off-the-ball incidents involving Nabil Bentaleb and Mouse Dembele merit further action.

Jack Wilshere, who was hit with a two-game suspension for his one-finger gesture to Manchester City fans last month, believes that Walcott will become "a legend" in the eyes of Arsenal fans for his "banter" with the Spurs supporters.

"He's a bit smarter than me, I suppose. He'll be an Arsenal legend now. They were giving it to him and he's given a little bit back. I think people have got to look at it as banter. The Arsenal fans will love that. They love Theo already and this is only going to help him." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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