Theo Walcott set for Arsenal return against Southampton
Theo Walcott will return to the fold against his former club Southampton as Arsenal host third-placed Saints at the Emirates this weekend. Walcott picked up an abdominal injury soon after the beginning of the season. The English forward wasn’t expected to return this early, but good progress in his recovery program could bring him back into action against Southampton on Saturday.
Walcott, who has been out of action since mid-September, made his last appearance for Arsenal in the Champions League opener against Marseille earlier this year. Walcott was expected to become a part of the international friendlies as England headed to battle with Ukraine and Germany, but the Three Lions coach Roy Hodgson decided against bring Walcott back into action prematurely.
Walcott has to pass a medical test before the game to clear him for duty for Arsenal, but manager Arsene Wenger is confident the 24-year-old England international will be running on the field this Saturday.
“Theo will be back for Saturday and he's completely fit again,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website. “He has not played for a long time, of course, he has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday.
“Theo has different qualities to other players and I am very pleased that he's back. He is one of the players who goes behind [the defense] without the ball. Strikers who get behind the defenders are a very important quality and Theo has that quality.
“Of course you miss a player like Theo Walcott. Theo had a good start to the season, he scored goals, he provided chances and had assists. He can always give you a different option in the game and that is of course vital.
“You always want to have a perfect balance and if you look at our results our balance was not too bad.”
Lukas Podolski is still three weeks away from being cleared by the medical staff. The German forward hasn’t been able to impress since arriving at Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out for four more weeks. He is expected to come back to action after New Year’s Eve.