Pitchside Europe

The three Gunners who must start firing to make up for absent Walcott

Our friends at Squawka.com believe that Arsenal have the players to shrug off Theo Walcott's injury without dipping into the transfer market.

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Hearts sank when news of Theo Walcott's long-term knee injury broke.

The 24-year-old had made quite an impact since returning from his abdominal injury late last year, netting five goals in five games. He was high on confidence and determined to lend as big a hand as he could to Arsenal's title push.

This setback, however, deprives him of the opportunity to help not only Arsenal, but also England at the World Cup.

It's devastating both for the player and for Arsene Wenger, who values the directness that Walcott brings to his attack.

But looking on the bright side, the Frenchman will be relieved that this happened at a time when he can do something about it, with the January transfer window having just opened.

Yet before he pulls out his chequebook, Wenger will be keen to turn to some of the players already in his squad, who now have an opportunity to step up. Here's our pick of the three men who have the ability to offset the loss of Walcott.

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Lukas Podolski

The German hasn't been back from injury too long himself after spending several months on the sidelines. He made up for lost time immediately, however, by coming off the bench against West Ham United to grab a goal and play a significant part in another.

Lukas Podolski's shooting accuracy stats (Squawka.com)

Like Walcott, he is a direct player who enjoys coming in off the left flank to link up with players in and around the penalty area, as well as making his own runs through on goal.

He did just that against the Hammers - that's how he got his goal - and Wenger will be hoping for more of the same in the coming months.

In his four Premier League games this season, Podolski has scored three goals, whilst also attaining a shot accuracy of 80%. Very impressive figures from the thunderous German.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

"The Ox" was another of Arsenal's long-term casualties this season after going down to a knee injury on the opening day of the season. Fortunately for Wenger and Arsenal, he has just returned to full training.

He too is another very direct player on the ball. He is keen to get on it and run at defenders, using his pace and trickery. He isn't much of a goalscorer like his compatriot Walcott, but he can certainly wreak havoc in the final third when he is on form.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain's chance creation stats (Squawka.com)

He will need time to get back into his groove, but Wenger will be hoping he doesn't take too much time: last season Oxlade-Chamberlain created 19 chances, getting three assists, and he can contribute to the team again.

Serge Gnbary

The youngest of them all, but arguably the most exciting of the three, the 18-year-old German has impressed whenever called upon this season. Most recently was his display in the Gunners' 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup, where he set up Santi Cazorla for the opening goal.

Following that performance, he came out and said that he was eager for more opportunities and that he had learnt a lot from Walcott. Hopefully, he has learnt enough to help see Arsenal through the rest of their campaign.

Serge Gnabry's stats (Squawka.com)

In the Premier League, Gnabry has already scored once  - against Swansea - while in his five league appearances, he has created three chances, with a decent shot accuracy of 75%.

The youngster's passing has been impressive too, the 18-year-old has completed 86% of his passes, demonstrating the composure and technique in his game.