Theo Walcott is set to return to the Arsenal squad to take on his former club Southampton on Saturday. The winger has been absent for almost two months after suffering an abdominal injury an undergoing surgery. His return is set to provide a major boost for an Arsenal side, after they suffered their first Premier League defeat since the opening day of the season when they lost 1-0 at Manchester United before the international break.
More than a lack of ability, or manger Arsene Wenger being outthought tactically, it was a loss that perhaps exposed the lack of resources Wenger has been dealing with for much of the season. On the back of a massive win at Borussia Dortmund, the team lacked the intensity of their opponents at Old Trafford. Arsenal’s far from over-flowing squad has been stretched with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey forced to play almost every game.
Ramsey was also an injury worry for the return of Premier League action this weekend. The midfielder had a hamstring problem, which forced him to miss Wales’ friendly with Finland on Saturday, but is also expected to be fit to face Southampton.
The match looks likely to have come soon, though, for Lukas Podolski. The German forward has not been seen in an Arsenal shirt since tearing his hamstring in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League playoff with Fenerbahce at the end of August. He could be back in action before the end of the month. The return of last summer’s signing from Cologne would take some of the strain off of Olivier Giroud, although Podolski has struggled when played through the middle at Arsenal. Young French striker Yaya Sanogo also remains out with a back injury.
The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still looks to be a few weeks away. Indeed, the Sunday People recently reported that the 20-year-old will not even return to training until mid-December, meaning that he would not be back in first-team action until after the New Year. Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a knee injury in the defeat to Aston Villa on the Premier League’s opening day and had initially expected to be back in three months, while Wenger had hoped it could have been as little as six weeks on the sidelines.
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Abou Diaby’s return is even more uncertain. Having suffered the latest in a frustratingly long line of injuries with a cruciate ligament tear last year, the midfielder suffered a setback last month and isn’t expected back until next March.
Arsenal will want as many players as possible fit for the clash with high-flying Southampton. Mauricio Pochettino’s side sit third in the Premier League, just three points behind Arsenal, having lost just once this season, back in August.