Theo Walcott fitness: Arsene Wenger warns against expecting too much from Arsenal forward

The England international started his first game in a year against Hull

Jim van Wijk
Monday 05 January 2015 16:41 GMT
Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident he has the "many solutions" in attack needed to secure a successful end to the season, but warned against expecting too much too soon from Theo Walcott.

The Gunners secured a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over Hull on Sunday, the team they defeated in the 2014 final at Wembley.

Chile forward Alexis Sanchez impressed again, stroking home his 16th goal of the season with eight minutes left, while on another day Walcott - making a first start since the serious knee injury which kept him out for almost a year - would have netted a brace himself but for some rusty finishing.

With Olivier Giroud having now completed his three-match suspension and England forward Danny Welbeck expected to shake off his thigh injury ahead of the visit of Stoke on Sunday, which could also see German playmaker Mesut Ozil involved after three months out, Wenger certainly has plenty of options going forwards.

The Gunners boss, who has allowed Lukas Podolski to join Inter Milan, said on Arsenal Player: "We have many options when you think of the players who still have not played (against Hull), we have many solutions up front.

"It is a very important period now. We have had many injuries until now and hopefully everybody will be back."

Wenger, though, will be cautious with Walcott's rehabilitation.

"You cannot expect much [from Walcott yet], but fitness-wise he was good," the Gunners boss said.

"Theo had good chances, made some good runs. He has to get used to contact again and that will take a little bit of time."

Arsenal are expected to add to the squad in the January transfer window, with Saint-Etienne defender Loic Perrin having claimed contact has already been made over a potential move.

France under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo could be allowed to leave on loan to get some match experience, and Wenger may also decide to add more attacking cover, although already has back-up in Joel Campbell and 19-year-old Chuba Akpom, who has come off the bench in the last two matches.

Wenger reported after Sunday's win that midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey both had a chance to be involved for the Stoke game following their respective injury lay-offs.

Captain Mikel Arteta, however, remains sidelined by a niggling calf problem which saw the Spaniard limp out of the Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund on November 26.

Writing in his programme notes, Arteta said: "I have started running this week, so let's see where this progress is going to take me.

"My aim is always to play and be on the pitch as quickly as possible, because I really miss it.

"I love competing, I love being out there and it has been a difficult time for me."

Wojciech Szczesny was replaced in goal against Hull by David Ospina.

Press Association Sport understands reports the Poland keeper was banned and fined following a dressing room bust-up after the 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Southampton on New Year's Day are incorrect.


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