Walcott to miss England qualifiers
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has been ruled out for three weeks because he needs stomach surgery.
Walcott was withdrawn from the Arsenal XI to face Stoke last weekend after feeling pain in his stomach, and the Gunners confirmed today that he needs surgery.
An Arsenal statement read: "Theo Walcott will have a minor procedure on his abdomen in Germany on Wednesday which will keep him out of action until after the next international break."
Walcott's injury is a blow for Arsenal, who have come to rely on the winger even more this season following the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes to have the 24-year-old forward back for the game against Norwich on October 19.
Wenger said: "Theo will be out for a few weeks. He has developed some damage to his posterior abdominal wall. It's not a hernia, but it's a little structural problem in his abdomen.
"He will have the procedure in Germany on Wednesday and, because it's so minor, we can begin his rehab immediately. We are pleased it's being dealt with quickly and he shouldn't miss too many Arsenal matches. But he will miss the forthcoming international matches with England."
However, Walcott's injury is arguably of greater importance to England.
Walcott has become an instrumental part of Roy Hodgson's starting XI lately, starting the last five games for the Three Lions.
England need to win their final two qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland next month to guarantee qualification for Rio 2014.
Walcott's absence for Arsenal will be offset slightly if Mesut Ozil continues his sparkling early form for the Gunners.
Ozil's superb start to his career in north London has heightened the anger of Real Madrid fans and players who objected to his sale to Wenger's men.
Real president Florentino Perez defended the £42.5million transfer last week by claiming the German asked to leave because "he couldn't handle the pressure at Madrid."
But fellow midfielder Cazorla insists nothing could be further from the truth.
"No, I don't think that," he told Sphera Sports. "He was at Real Madrid for three years and he showed his quality there.
"I don't know why he has left Madrid, but I am sure that pressure wasn't the reason. Mesut has played in big games and he has always turned up.
"I think he left for other, more personal reasons, and not because of the pressure he was under."
Arsenal fans had spent a large part of the last few years begging manager Arsene Wenger to shell out on a marquee signing, and it seems that he has chosen well in his purchase of Ozil.
The German had a hand in all three goals on Sunday as Arsenal swatted aside Stoke and he also set up Olivier Giroud on debut versus Sunderland the week before.
The Gunners sit atop the Barclays Premier League after seven straight wins in all competitions, raising hopes that this could be the year when the north London club end their nine-season wait for a trophy.
Cazorla thinks Ozil's introduction has taken Arsenal to another level and he hopes the club can be up there challenging for the title come May.
"Mesut is a top player," Cazorla said. "He is a different footballer who wins matches. It's great to be next to him every day because every time you learn something new, we are really lucky to have him in our team.
"He gives us exactly what we need and his incorporation in to the side has given the squad a big step up in terms of quality. I hope that his arrival gives us a chance of getting up there and fighting for the title."
With three games coming up in seven days, Wenger is likely to give his youngsters and fringe players a run out at West Brom in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.
Nicklas Bendtner, Emiliano Viviano and Ryo Miyaichi are likely to feature.
There could also be a first start of the season for Mikel Arteta, who came off the substitutes' bench against Stoke following his recovery from a thigh injury.