Walcott could be our secret weapon

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Arsenal supporters have blandly come to accept that we will at some point, in any given season, succumb to a barrage of injuries or spate of unavailability. Perhaps the rapidity with which we have welcomed our perennial injury crisis will work in our favour as we have three weeks to get our affairs in order and avoid being caught short for an extended period.

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This first appeared on North London Is Red in August 2016

North London Is Red

Jurgen Klopp’s side had a mixed pre-season and like Arsenal they are suffering their own defensive injury crisis with Karius, Gomez and Sakho missing. Despite Liverpool’s buoyant attack and Arsenal’s lack of a recognised senior striker the bookmakers fancy an Arsenal win.

The lack of a senior striker did not stop Arsenal recording 17 goals against Lens, MLS All Stars, Chivas de Guadalajara, Viking FK and Manchester City. Arsenal had goals from all over the pitch from both experienced players and vibrant youth. Theo Walcott can be pleased with the way he finished pre-season and will want to prove he can still be useful. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put in a good case to start on the right flank and with Wenger experimenting with Alexis as a false nine again Theo may have to be satisfied with a role as a super-sub.

Of course this could work in Arsenal’s favour as a tired, threadbare defence will not want to cope with the speed and movement of Walcott stretching them hither and thither for the final 20 minutes or so of what is likely to be an end-to-end affair.

Granit Xhaka will be making his Premier League debut and Liverpool will be an early test for him with their high pressing game. Arsenal fans will have seen some of him during pre-season and for Switzerland at the Euros but may not be fully aware of how well Xhaka combines protecting the defence and launching attacks. If there are holes to be found then you can be sure Granit will be filling or exploiting them.


It may be a recurring theme throughout the season but Granit is likely to be partnered by Coquelin or Elneny to provide a bigger shield to Arsenal’s defence. Long term I still believe Xhaka will form a formidable midfield duo with Ramsey but we may have to wait for Koscielny and Özil to return as Ramsey will be filling Mesut’s shoes for the time being.

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