Spinal Tap’s drummers. Arsenal’s strikers. Create your own joke, because the Gunners are providing all the ingredients, and with the Gunners losing their third striker in as many games this Saturday against Newcastle.
First there was Olivier Giroud, who had started every league game before missing this week’s match against Cardiff City with an ankle injury. Nicklas Bendtner was used as a substitute against the Bluebirds but went down with an ankle injury of his own. Theo Walcott, who got the call this weekend against Tottenham, suffered a left knee injury going in for a tackle on Danny Rose, leaving Lukas Podolski as the least of the number nine Mohicans.
Walcott’s injury, which came during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over North London rivals Tottenham, could turn out to be the most serious, with the first choice right winger carried off after suffering his injury in Saturday’s 81st minute. Though he is scheduled for full tests on Monday, preliminary reports have him sidelined for four weeks, potentially costing him league matches against Aston Villa, Fulham, Southampton and Crystal Palace.
If the timeline holds up, Walcott would return for Arsenal’s brutal February run, a stretch where the Gunners face Manchester United, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich within 12 days (Feb. 8 – Feb. 19). If Monday’s tests identify damage beyond strained ligaments (the original diagnosis), Walcott could miss additional time.
Though he has already missed significant time with an abdominal injury, the 24-year-old England international has scored five league goals this season, a total eclipsed by only Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud in Arsenal’s squad. Combined with performances in Europe and Cup competitions, Walcott has six goals in 18 games, a slight downturn from the rate that produced a career high 21 goals in 43 games last season.
In addition to Walcott, Arsenal is also waiting results on injuries to Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen, with the club fearing their Belgian defender may have suffered a major injury against Spurs. Arteta is awaiting word on the calf injury that forced his removal in Saturday’s 75th minute.