Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has claimed that Theo Walcott’s ‘2-0’ hand gesture to Tottenham fans in Saturday’s north London derby will secure his place as a legend at the club.
The England winger was carried off the pitch on a stretcher with what looked to be a bad knee injury, but he was soon met with a barrage of coins and plastic bottles, and anything else that some Spurs fans could get their hands on.
In response, Walcott gave supporters of the Gunners’ bitter rivals a reminder of the scoreline, much to their displeasure as the barrage soon turned into a storm of projectiles aimed in his direction.
But Wilshere, who received a two-match ban for making a rude and offensive hand gesture to Manchester City fans – after he claimed they were making offensive chants about his children – has defended his international and club teammate, and stressed that if fans are going to give abuse they must be able to take it back.
“He'll be an Arsenal legend now,” Wilshere told reporters following the 2-0 victory. “They love Theo already and this is only going to help him.
“[The Tottenham supporters] were giving it to him and he's given a little bit back. I think people have got to look at it as banter.”
Arsenal progressed to the third round thanks to goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky, although the injury to Walcott did dampen spirits during ever-so-slightly. Walcott looks set for around four weeks on the sidelines, meaning Arsene Wenger could look to bring in a striker to help share the burden that Olivier Giroud has shouldered for most of the season.
The Gunners will host Coventry in the fourth round of the FA Cup, which will be played on the 25 January (subject to television selection) and victory would leave them battling for silverware on three fronts, with the Premier League currently in their sights as well as the Champions League last 16 clash with Bayern Munich.
Transfer news: Strikers Arsenal could sign in January
Transfer news: Strikers Arsenal could sign in January
1/7 Diego Costa
The Atletico Madrid star has recently signed a new contract to remain in the Spanish capital, although it is reported that a £32m release clause can be activated to try and negotiate a move. Costa’s decision to leave Atletico would be surprising though, given their competitiveness in La Liga as they sit level on points with leaders Barcelona, and also their brilliant run in the Champions League. A move to London could also jeopardise his hopes of making the Spain squad for the 2014 World Cup after electing to play for the reigning champions rather than his native Brazil.
2/7 Dimitar Berbatov
His agent has already claimed that the Bulgarian would like to leave Fulham this month despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. With £2m believed to be enough to secure the former Tottenham and Manchester United striker, it would be a low cost, low risk option, but questions remain over his work rate and energy levels, and Wenger has denied any interest on his part. Whether Berbatov would quench the thirst of fans who feel another striker in integral to their title hopes remains uncertain, but he does come with a natural talent that few in the Premier League can match – if only he produced it regularly.
3/7 Karim Benzema
The Real Madrid striker was linked with a move away from the club in the summer after struggling to produce the form required to spearhead an attack that includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. But the Frenchman has since hit his best, and a much mooted move to Arsenal now appears off the cards with Carlo Ancelotti determined not to sell. Benzema would no doubt be a world class acquisition that would provide further optimism at the Emirates that the Gunners are here to stay at the top, but it may take in excess of £30m (and thus bankroll a Real move for Luis Suarez) to trigger any chance of signing him this month.
Verdict: The slimmest of chances
4/7 Alvaro Morata
Benzema’s colleague at Real Madrid has been linked with a short-term move in the hope of seeking regular first team action, with Arsenal and Tottenham at the forefront of those rumours. Ancelotti’s desire not to let any players depart again causes an issue, but chances of securing Morata are much higher given Benzema’s current standing as the starting striker. Unproven, Morata would be an exciting talent but also back-up to Giroud, and you would have to question a decision to move to the Emirates when first team football is by no means guaranteed.
5/7 Mario Mandzukic
The Bayern Munich striker looks set to be displaced in his role as lead striker at the end of the season by the recently acquired Robert Lewandowski, and reports this morning suggest that Arsenal are one of the clubs interest in his services. A proven goalscorers, the Croatian would add experience and talent to the squad, but he’s unlikely to jump ship with Bayern on course for another trophy-laden season.
Verdict: Watch this space in summer
6/7 Loic Remy
On loan at Newcastle from Queens Park Rangers, Remy is available in January should Rangers receive a good enough offer. Remy has looked sharp throughout the first half of the season, leading the line for the Magpies with 10 goals in 18 appearances. It could take over £10m to acquire the Frenchman though, but Remy would inject a turn of pace that Giroud does seem to lack at the moment.
Verdict: Very possible
Swansea’s signing of the season last year hasn’t been as prolific this term, but his eye for a goal remains undoubted given his 22 goals in all competitions during his first year at the Liberty Stadium. However, Michu is currently on the sidelines through injury and would be a pointless signing to solve the current injury situation that the Gunners have. Despite links with the Spaniard, this move looks like a complete no-go.
Verdict: No chance