Walcott injury a big blow, but Gunners can cope

Posted by Andrew Mangan

The news that Theo Walcott is to miss the rest of the season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee is a hammer blow to the player, and really gives Arsene Wenger something to think about this January.

The winger has had a stop-start kind of season thus far, making just 18 appearances, but in recent weeks, since recovering fully from the abdominal problem he picked up, he has shown his worth.

Five goals since mid-December and a display up front against Spurs which showed that, against certain opposition, he was a genuine option in the absence of more traditional candidates. His pace is a weapon that Arsenal have lacked at times this season, and this injury robs the team of its top scorer from the last campaign.

Those who make the point that Arsenal have been top of the league without him ignore the fact that having relatively fresh players in the second part of the season could be a godsend -- and to have a player like Walcott who, despite some flaws, has plenty of end product ... well ... it's misguided to play down the impact of this news and what it means to the team.

However, if there's a good time for this to happen, it might just be now. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has just returned to full training after suffering the same injury on the opening day of the season; Serge Gnabry showed he's capable of producing in the big games with a fine showing in the FA Cup at the weekend; and, of course, Wenger has the very handy option of the open transfer window to soften the blow should he so choose.

Even with everyone fit there was a very good case to be made for Arsenal to spend some money on a striker this month. Now, with Nicklas Bendtner sidelined for a month, along with Walcott's bad news, it makes the search for the right player even more important.

It won't be any easier, in fact clubs might be more difficult to negotiate with as Arsenal's need has become very publicly more pressing, but at least they have the rest of this month to cast their net to try to find someone who can add some quality and depth to the squad. It's no longer a case of a signing being a possibility, it's now a necessity.

It's a cruel blow to Walcott, who has suffered before with injury and also will miss England's World Cup campaign in Brazil this summer, but from an Arsenal point of view, they, at least, have the ability to deal with a bad situation far better than had this happened Feb. 1.

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