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What does Walcott's injury mean for Arsenal and England?

By: Luc Bailey 17 Jan 2014 09:49:12

What does Walcott's injury mean for Arsenal and England?

Theo Walcott's taunt towards Tottenham fans in the Gunners FA Cup derby triumph will be the last time he is on a football pitch for at least six months.

The winger's season-ending injury has not only dented Arsenal's hopes of claiming of first trophy in eight years but has also dealt England a huge blow for their World Cup campaign.

Walcott's speed and finishing touch (whether scoring goals or providing assists) will be sorely missed for the rest of the Gunners domestic and European campaign. The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury as well as the emergence of young Serge Gnabry has come as a timely boost, but even they may not be enough to ensure silverware this season.

Arsenal's forward line is also looking rather light-weight with only Olivier Giroud the fittest and most prolific in front of goal. The ever enigmatic Nicklas Bendtner is currently sidelined with an injury, however even when available he isn't exactly a potent goal scorer. This means arsenal will most probably have to dip into their pockets once again this season to ensure they have the strength in depth if more absences occur.

If the North London outfit do decide to add to the squad this January, it should probably be someone of record-signing Mesut Ozil's calibre and not just cheap or fringe players brought in to fill the void. A number of players have been linked with a move to the Emirates recently, Namely Athletico Madrid's in-form goal scorer Diego Costa and more recently Schalke's young starlet Julian Draxler. Barcelona's Pedro has also been mention to potentially fill the void left by Walcott's absence.

But while the Gunners have the option to buy another player during this January transfer window, England now have to look to a ready replacement for the former Southampton winger.

Walcott's previously meantioned Arsenal teammate Chamberlain would probably be the more likely back-up to the Gunners number 14 as he possesses not only much the same qualities (although maybe not as quick) but also has the potential to be better than Theo in the future. Aaron Lennon is the player England possess that is the most similar to Walcott. His height, speed, agility, skill and finishing touch make him almost identical to his club rival and has also represented England at two World Cup tournaments.

James Milner, Adam Johnson and Ashley Young have also all been played for the Three Lions as wingers before, but do they have the quality England really need to stand a chance of achieving and kind of success in Brazil?

Probably not, many would argue. Milner has been deployed more as a sub or "B-team" player by Manchester City since he arrived at the Sky Blues and has never really shone in an England shirt. Johnson is currently languishing in the Premier League relegation zone with Sunderland and while he has been one of their bright lights during a dim season and has shown great potential during his career, it is yet to be seen whether he has the ability to perform at a world-class level. Young displayed great form and prowess at both Watford and Aston Villa but has yet to really shine for Manchester United and England.

There is also the potential for Roy Hodgson to pull a rabbit out of the hat and select a player from the lower divisions. Tom Ince is the stand-out player for Blackpool and can play as either a winger or attacking midfielder. He is also being linked with a move to Swansea which means the England boss could keep better track of him and it would also test Ince's abililty to perform at the top level of English football. On top of this, a player in Ince's position may not be too well known by teams at the World Cup which would give the Three Lions the advantage of having an unknown player/hidden gem in their ranks.

For however long Walcott is out for, the fact remains that both Arsenal and England must do everything they can to find an adequate replacement. Who that is is yet to be decided.

 


DSG

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