West Brom V Arsenal at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

25 September 2013 04:28
West Brom V Arsenal - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Stomach surgery sidelines Walcott

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has been ruled out for three weeks because he needs stomach surgery.

Walcott was withdrawn from the Arsenal XI to face Stoke last weekend after feeling pain in his stomach, and the Gunners have confirmed he needs surgery.

Walcott will miss England's crunch qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland as well as Arsenal's Capital One Cup clash at West Brom and games against Swansea and Napoli.

An Arsenal statement read: "Theo Walcott will have a minor procedure on his abdomen in Germany on Wednesday which will keep him out of action until after the next international break."

Walcott's injury is a blow for Arsenal, who have come to rely on the winger even more this season following the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes to have the 24-year-old back for the game against Norwich on October 19, however.

Wenger said: "Theo will be out for a few weeks. He has developed some damage to his posterior abdominal wall. It's not a hernia, but it's a little structural problem in his abdomen.

"He will have the procedure in Germany on Wednesday and, because it's so minor, we can begin his rehab immediately. We are pleased it's being dealt with quickly and he shouldn't miss too many Arsenal matches. But he will miss the forthcoming international matches with England."

Walcott's absence for Arsenal will be offset slightly if Mesut Ozil continues his sparkling early form for the Gunners.

The Gunners sit atop the Barclays Premier League after seven straight wins in all competitions, raising hopes that this could be the year when the north London club end their nine-season wait for a trophy.

With three games coming up in seven days, Wenger is likely to give his youngsters and fringe players a run out at West Brom in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.

Nicklas Bendtner, Emiliano Viviano and Ryo Miyaichi are likely to feature.

There could also be a first start of the season for Mikel Arteta, who came off the substitutes' bench against Stoke following his recovery from a thigh injury.

West Brom now have the depth in quality to "have a real go" in cup competitions this season after disappointing knockout exits last year, according to assistant head coach Kevin Keen.

Albion's impressive campaign was slightly tainted by their failure to make a fist of cup runs last season as they exited both the Capital One Cup and FA Cup at the third-round stage.

They face Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday hoping to go at least one better than last season and Keen believes there is every reason to approach the competition with enthusiasm thanks to the additions made to the squad this summer.

"A cup run would be fantastic," he said.

"Ask the Swansea supporters or the Wigan supporters.for the supporters of West Brom, any sort of cup run would be fantastic.

"Certainly getting anywhere near the final makes it really exciting."

The likes of Nicolas Anelka, Scott Sinclair, Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe were all brought in over the summer and Keen hopes a stronger squad will aid their cup ambitions.

He added: "The club gave us a couple of gold nuggets on deadline day and we hope we can produce some good football and score the goals which will enable us to win games.

"QPR last season in the FA Cup was really disappointing and we want to have a real crack at it.

"We will have a real go at it and we want to win things for the supporters. They want us to pay in semi-finals and go to Wembley and the players want to be remembered for winning things."

Keen added: "Arsenal are under a bit of pressure because they've not won a major trophy for a while.

"I think it's a good draw for us because the crowd will get behind us. I like the game."

Much is made of Arsenal's eight-year trophy drought but Keen is among those in the Frenchman's corner.

"You can't knock Arsene's achievements," he said. "He has been magnificent and has been working under financial restrictions and they have come through that. With Mesut Ozil joining, they are going to be up there."

Striker Shane Long could return to the fold for the Gunners' visit following a recent knee injury.Republic of Ireland international Long is in contention along with captain Chris Brunt, who missed Saturday's win over Sunderland with a groin injury.

Source: PA