Arsenal have been boosted this week by the return of forward Theo Walcott to the first team after missing nearly a month of action.
The 26 year old England forward had been in scintillating form for the Gunners this term, scoring 11 goals in 20 games, despite playing out wide on the right most of the season – arguably the position he is best suited to play in Arsenal’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed in his pre-match interview today that Walcott would be in the squad to take on his former club Southampton. Theo had joined Arsenal from the Saints a decade back as a 16 year old for a princely sum of 5 million pounds.
Wenger also shared that Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy are back in training after recovering from their respective injuries, and that he would take largely a full strength team to Southampton as he looks to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Wenger did admit though it is his midfield that he is most worried about, having lost Granit Xhaka for 4 games through suspension and that he may be forced to field a few younger players to make up for the absence of first team regulars to fill that berth.
He said, “We have Theo Walcott back in the squad and of course we lose Granit Xhaka because he will be suspended. Mohamed Elneny is at the Africa Cup of Nations and that’s it. The good news is that Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy are back in full training from Friday, so the squad is quite big, but we are a bit short in midfield at the moment.”
Regarding the team itself that he will field at the weekend, Wenger added, “We’ll put out a team with first-team experience. Maybe there will be one or two younger players, but no more. Overall, it’s the squad that will play. I have not yet completely decided who will play and who will not play. It’s a first-team squad that will be involved.”