Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that winger Theo Walcott has suffered a setback in his recovery from injury and will be out for at least another fortnight.
Walcott was expected to make a return to the Gunners squad for the Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, but he is now two weeks away from his recovery from a stomach injury.
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"He had a setback," Wenger told reporters. "He had to stop, to jog again. I don't think we will see him against Dortmund, nor Crystal Palace nor Chelsea. He is at least two weeks away now."
Wenger's timescale suggests Walcott will not be seen in Arsenal colours again until the home game against Liverpool on November 2 at the earliest, but his absence has hardly derailed a flying Arsenal after they retained their two point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win against Norwich on Saturday.
Arsenal now hold an eight point advantage over faltering Premier League champions Manchester United, but Wenger insists David Moyes and his side should not be discounted as title challengers just yet.
"You cannot rule Man United out today," he insisted. "They have big players, big experience and they are a big club. It's three games basically [to make up the gap] -- that is very quick in our league.
"The eight point advantage we have starts to be a little gap but Man United are not out of the title race and we are only two points in front of all the others.
"If you have a choice nobody wants to be eight points behind. If you have the choice, you want to be in the race at the top, but it is still to early to say."
In-form midfielder Aaron Ramsey was slightly more bullish in his assessment, as he suggested Arsenal are enjoying life as Premier League leaders.
"We've started very strongly, we're top of the league and that's where we want to stay," he told the Arsenal website. "One of the biggest things we've improved on is the start of the season.
"We've struggled in the last few years and had to play catch-up. There’s an opportunity in every game to pick up points and we’re just concentrating on our own games at the moment and that’s proven in the start that we’re having.
"Other teams have struggled so far and teams are going to take points off each other so it's important to keep focused on our own game."