Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is carried off on a stretcher during the FA Cup third round match against Tottenham, January 4. Reuters
Arsenal are having one of the best seasons in a long time this year, and with a few of his players already out long-term, the one thing that Arsene Wenger would have been praying for was not to lose one of his best players for the rest of the season.
But lo and behold the injury bug that has plagued Arsenal for many a year continued to bite, with one of the main men - Theo Walcott - ruled out for the entire season, and also the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"After coming off injured in Saturday's 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, the club regrettably announces that Theo Walcott has sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee," Arsenal said in a statement on their official website.
"Theo will have surgery in London in the near future and is expected to be out for at least six months, therefore missing the remainder of the season and the World Cup in Brazil in the summer.
"Everyone at Arsenal wishes Theo a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on a football pitch as soon as possible."
The fact that Walcott will miss Arsenal's season, and their possible charge for the English Premier League title was bad enough, but what will gall the forward, and all of his supporters, even more will be the fact that he will not be able to take part in England's sojourn at the World Cup.
Missing the Brazil World Cup means, it will be the third straight tournament that Walcott will have failed to play a single minute in - he was, of course, part of the 2006 World Cup squad, but never came off the bench, while Fabio Capello decided to leave the 24-year-old out of his 23-man team for the 2010 WC in South Africa.
While England will definitely miss Walcott's services, arguably the bigger issue will be for Arsenal. Yes, Arsenal are filled with playmakers that can play in any position, and yes, the Gunners do have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nearing a return, with the excellent Serge Gnabry chomping at the bit for a run of games.
But then none of them are Walcott. Whenever Arsene Wenger seems to want a Plan B, he looks at Walcott, be that from the bench or to change things up on the pitch. Walcott provides Arsenal that extra cutting edge, which the silky-one-touch playmakers cannot quite provide.
The stats are pretty good for Walcott this season, having netted five goals and four assists from 13 games in the Premier League, while creating 23 chances.
Walcott is much more than an impact player for Arsenal now - undoubtedly he is one of their leaders and main men, the kind of player that everyone looks to when the side needs a goal or one to be put on a plate.
When the England international seemed to twist his knee during the final minutes of the FA Cup third round encounter against Tottenham - a game which saw Walcott play admirably well as a central striker -- there were a few cringes, and thought-popping of how long will he be out - even if that worry was tempered by the chuckle-worthy 2-0 sign to the Tottenham fans. But nobody would have thought it will be for six months, a blow that even Wenger would have found extremely difficult to swallow.
But then a team's true character comes to the fore in adversity. Wenger need not look to other teams for inspiration. In 2002, also a World Cup year, Robert Pires, having the season of his life, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury. Arsenal overcame that loss and won the Premier League title as well as the FA Cup, with the now famous images of the entire team bowing down to the great Frenchman as he walked to lift the trophy in crutches etched in every EPL fan's memory.
Walcott and indeed Arsenal will hope to repeat that image come May.
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