Arsene Wenger confirms Arsenal need a new striker, after Walcott’s injury

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Following Theo Walcott’s season-ending injury against Tottenham last weekend in the FA Cup win, Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that his side must look to bring in a striker during the January transfer the window.

Saying that is the easy part. But actually going out and doing it, especially in January, is incredibly hard.

However Wenger was upbeat despite the loss of Walcott and he cited the fact that Nicklas Bendtner should be back in three weeks, youngster Serge Gnabry is improving rapidly, Lukas Podolski has just returned from injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t far behind.

That gave Wenger hope that Walcott’s usual berth out wide on the right will be filled adequately during his absence, but Wenger believes the loss of Walcott as a stand-in forward is harmful to the squad and must be addressed.

“Up front we lose Theo as a potential central forward and that’s maybe where we have to look outside. But we hopefully have Bendtner back in three weeks. We are there for the opportunities but it’s very difficult at the moment.”

Very difficult means one of two things: A) Wenger is playing his cards close to his chest and trying to make the clubs whose players Arsenal have already bid for a little nervous. Result: price drop. B) Or he has seen the price of the players he wants and realizes there’s no way the Gunners can splash out $40-50 million on a top forward.

(MORE: Walcott injury sends Wenger, Arsenal searching for quick solutions at forward)

Either way, it shows how much of an issue losing Walcott to a ruptured ACL is.

Before the injury Wenger was quite bullish about Arsenal not needing to add a striker in the January transfer window. We all know this is the time when clubs get fleeced, so to speak, as strengthening in mid-season is always expensive, risky and less of an attractive proposition. The fact that Walcott can play out wide or up front (which he did incredibly well against Spurs) shows that he’s worth almost two players to Arsenal’s squad.

Wenger’s admission that he’s looking to strengthen also shows that Arsenal are willing to spend money to try and win the Premier League title. How much they spend and who they spend it on, will determine if their title bid is successful. A massive decision looms for Wenger and co.

Let’s see if they go for the cheap or extravagant option, as reluctantly the hunt for a new forward is well and truly underway at the Emirates.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.