Walcott urges Arsenal to take Wolves chance

Theo Walcott has told Arsenal to ensure tonight's game at Wolves is not another missed opportunity to cut the gap to Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. The Gunners suffered a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle on Sunday before watching Chelsea lose 2-0 at Liverpool, the second time this season Arsène Wenger's side have failed to capitalise on a slip-up from the champions.

Chelsea lost 1-0 at Manchester City back in September only for Arsenal to go down hours later to a shock defeat at the Emirates Stadium to promoted West Bromwich Albion. The north Londoners would be top of the table had they won both those games and England forward Walcott knows they must take full advantage of Chelsea's next defeat.

That could happen tonight, with the Blues hosting Fulham in the west London derby, while Arsenal travel to Molineux. "We are still in the same position as we were before, which is five points behind Chelsea," said Walcott. "Nothing has really changed, although it was another opportunity we could have taken."

Wolves are currently second-bottom of the table but have actually performed well in the midst of a nightmare run of League and cup fixtures, including two trips to Manchester United and one to Chelsea, as well as a home game with Manchester City.

They managed to beat City 2-1 along the way and Walcott is taking nothing for granted. "Wolves have been fairly strong at home and very good away from home," he said. "Their fans will give them an extra man, but if we can get the ball down, play our football and get the early goal, then hopefully it will be a good time for us."

Arsenal romped to a 4-1 win at Molineux last season but needed a stoppage-time goal to beat them in the reverse fixture as Wolves adapted to life back in the Premier League.

Wenger said: "Wolves are a side which everybody respects because, before you go there, you know they will give you a tough game with full commitment. They play good football and, for anybody to go to Wolves, it is a difficult game."

Arsenal will be without Laurent Koscielny, who yesterday saw his appeal against his dismissal against Newcastle rejected. The defender will serve a two-match ban, ruling him out tonight and for Sunday's away game against Everton.

The Gunners will hope captain Cesc Fabregas is able to play through an "annoying" hamstring problem, which the midfielder has confirmed is not torn but is proving alarmingly persistent.

Wenger must also decide whether to include Robin van Persie among his substitutes after conceding the Netherlands striker was not ready to return despite making his first appearance since August from the bench against Newcastle.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is closing in on full match-fitness following his elbow injury, and given the indecision of stand-in Lukasz Fabianski on Sunday that led to Andy Carroll's winner, the veteran Spaniard could come straight back into the side. Russian midfielder Andrei Arshavin will be hoping to start at Molineux after he looked sharp as a second-half substitute against Newcastle, but midfielder Samir Nasri (calf) is a doubt.

Wenger had bad news on long-term absentee Thomas Vermaelen. He revealed on Friday Vermaelen had been only "days" from returning to the first-team squad after more than two months out. But he damaged his Achilles again in training on Monday and will be sent back to see a specialist.

Wenger said: "I don't know where we go with Thomas time-wise but, at the moment, he cannot play. On the scan, his Achilles is completely clear but as soon as he stays out for a while, it tightens up and he has pain. We don't know the source of his pain."

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea