Walcott injury sends Wenger, Arsenal searching for quick solutions at forward

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If Theo Walcott’s injury was Arsenal’s only health concern, the situation would be bad enough. But Olivier Giroud is also out. So is Nicklas Bendtner as well as a handful of other people beyond the forward line. Now, with only Lukas Podolski healthy among Arsenal’s normal forward options, the Premier League-leading Gunners are experiencing a textbook injury crisis at the striker position.

Short on options ahead of Monday’s visit to Villa Park, it’s understandable why Arsenal is seeking what The Guardian’s calling a “quick-fix” solution. But contrary to the more unbelievable rumors, that fix might not involve the likes of Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic or Manchester City’s Edin Dezko. (Seriously, why would some of these guys move in January anyway?) Wary of paying the inflated prices in the January window, Arsène Wenger is said to have instructed scouts to find a short-term solution – somebody that can help the club make it to June before redressing the position this summer.

[MORE: Theo Walcott will miss rest of season and World Cup]

That leaves somebody like Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata. The 21-year-old has been near a goal-per-game scorer at youth levels for Spain, part of the reason Carlo Ancelotti wanted to keep him around the Santiago Bernabéu this season. Yet after the late August acquisition of Gareth Bale restored El Real’s attacking depth, Morata’s been limited to one La Liga start (though he has come on nine times as a substitute). In 14 all-competition appearances, the Madrid-born talent as two goals, with a lack of playing time limiting his production.

How much more playing time he’d get through June at Arsenal is an open question, but in the short-term, Morata would go to the top of the depth chart. When Olivier Giroud returns (and reportedly, he’s close) Morata would still often valuable cover for a player whose Champions League starts will prompt some rotation in February. As Arsenal’s season progresses, preserving Giroud’s minutes could be one of the many thin margins for error that defines this season’s Premier League title race.

[MORE: Theo Walcott just the first; roster of World Cup injury misfortune sure to grow]

The risk here is whether Morata will have an impact. At Real Madrid B and with Spain’s U-level teams, he’s produced, and via the eye test, he certainly looks like somebody who can contribute for most teams in the world …

… and during Arsenal’s injury crisis, the Gunners’ could be one of those teams. Yet Morata still represents more risk than going out and finding somebody with a more proven track record. Whereas Morata has more talent than most players Arsenal could acquire, it’s no given that talent will translate into Premier League goals.

Still, when you stop and consider the thin layer of proven options that would fit at Arsenal, Morata’s risk might be worthwhile. As players like Demba Ba and Andy Carroll have shown at clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool, some players can’t translate performance at one level to production on another. Add in Arsenal’s style of play and need to find somebody who can make an impact in Champions League and a title race, it may be better to roll the dice on potential than accept limitations.

Ultimately, this is only for six months. Acquiring another player — a more proven option from another team — would probably require a purchase as opposed to a loan. A short-term commitment allows Arsenal to dip back into the market in June without an ongoing financial commitment.

Thus, the argument for Morata. Or, a Morata-like player. At least, that’s the theory behind it. Whether Real Madrid cares about this line of thinking is another issue entirely.

Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth: Cherries secure huge road win

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  • Surman, Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead
  • Stoke have only won one of their last 8 games in all comps
  • Diouf’s goal not enough for a point

Bournemouth beat Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their first away win of the season.

Early goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas was enough to grab Bournemouth all three points as Mame Biram Diouf’s goal in the second half wasn’t enough to launch a Stoke comeback.

With the defeat Stoke slip into the bottom with Bournemouth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Bournemouth got off to the best possible start as Stanislas set up Surman who fired home to make it 1-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later after it was 2-0 as Stanislas slammed home a penalty kick following Benik Afobe being hacked down in the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Stoke struggled to recover after that awful start but they did grab a goal midway through the second half.

Diouf made it 2-1 with just 17 minutes gone in the second half as a long ball forward caused havoc in the box with Choupo-Mouting knocking it down for Diouf to finish.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Stoke threw plenty of long balls at Bournemouth late on but the Cherries held on for a crucial three points to leave Stoke in plenty of trouble.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Afobe and others came close to sealing the win late on for Bournemouth with Stoke pushing forward but the Cherries were well worth their victory.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs. West Brom

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Southampton and West Brom seek three points which would move them into the top half of the Premier League table when they meet Sunday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

As a bonus, Joe Prince-Wright is on the scene to give you a “proper match day experience” from the run-up to the final whistle at St. Mary’s.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Cedric, Van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Lemina, Romeu, Davis, Tadic, Long, Gabbiadini. Subs: McCarthy, Hoedt, McQueen, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Redmond, Austin.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Gibbs, Hegazi, Evans, Dawson, Livermore, Krychowiak, Chadli, Barry, Rodriguez, Rondon. Subs:

Matchday experience: Behind-the-scenes at Southampton

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What is a proper “matchday experience” really like in the Premier League?

For fans of the Premier League in the USA, you’ll no doubt be curious as to exactly what goes on over in the UK around every single game.

[ LIVE: Stream Saints v West Brom ] 

And for all of you who have ever wondered what it’s like, good news: we have a complete 360 experience lined up for Southampton vs. West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

We will be on site at Southampton to give you special access at St Mary’s Stadium before, during and after the game.

You will not want to miss this.

Make sure to follow Joe Prince-Wright’s journey behind-the-scenes by checking out the updated videos below as he spends time in pubs in the South Coast city before the game, joins the fans in the stands and will be closer to the action than ever before in the tunnel area and up close and personal with players.