Arsenal vs Manchester United: Theo Walcott doubtful with 'tight groin' as Arsene Wenger talks up Danny Welbeck ahead of United visit

Welbeck was sold by United on transfer deadline day and Wenger expects his striker to step up to the challenge when he faces his former club

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The Independent Online

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is a doubt for tomorrow’s game against Manchester United, having come back from England duty with a tight groin.

Arsene Wenger said in his press conference this morning that Walcott “could not practise” yesterday. The 25-year-old was a surprise pick in Roy Hodgson’s England squad but went with Wenger’s blessing and did not play in either of the two games against Slovenia and Scotland.

Walcott has played twice this month for Arsenal since his 11-month lay-off from a cruciate ligament injury.

Danny Welbeck also has a “little hamstring problem” that will be checked today. Wenger also said that he was yet to see Alexis Sanchez who has reported back having played for Chile in two games over the international break. Olivier Giroud could be on the bench tomorrow. “He is ahead of schedule,” Wenger said. “We planned to have him back in January. He is not there yet on the competitive front.” 

 

Wenger said that Giroud’s return to fitness from a broken leg would give competition to Welbeck. “I always respected Danny Welbeck and I always thought he had a great future,” Wenger said. “What he has achieved in the last three months has certainly gained more respect, even for the national he is one of the main players.”

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He said Welbeck would “take the challenge in a positive way” against his old club. “That is what he has done. I believe you have to understand that Louis Van Gaal did not have Welbeck under him for a long time [before he allowed him to be sold]. It is difficult to know a player when you have only seen him for two or three weeks.”

Danny-Welbeck.jpg
Welbeck returned from international duty with a 'little hamstring problem'

Wenger was also asked about reports that he almost signed Lionel Messi when the Argentinian was a teenager, but had refused to do so on the ground that the family asked the club to buy them a flat. Wenger said that he had tried to sign Messi and well as Gerard Pique when the club acquired Cesc Fabregas.

“I refused nothing!” Wenger said, in relation to the Messis. “It was just that in the he was not so keen to move. It was that period that Fabregas came. They played in the same team. We wanted to get Fabregas, Messi and Pique. It worked only for Fabregas. It was not down to a flat. In the end Messi was comfortable at Barcelona.”

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