In Depth

Arsenal star Walcott primed to tear it up with Welbeck

Winger set to return after nine months out with knee injury as Welbeck joins Gunners fast men

Theo Walcott

Nine months after the knee injury that finished Theo Walcott's season, the Arsenal and England winger is reportedly ready to return to the fray. The 25-year-old ruptured his cruciate ligaments in helping Arsenal beat Tottenham in the third round of the FA Cup on 4 January. The injury meant he was a frustrated onlooker as the Gunners went on to win the cup and he also missed out on the summer World Cup.

But it's been reported over the weekend that Walcott is back training and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is ready to let him loose at the end of month as the club prepare for a season-defining string of games. Arsenal host Spurs at the Emirates on Saturday September 27 and then face Turkish club Galatasaray the following Wednesday in the Champions League. Four days later the Gunners travel to Stamford Bridge to play an in-form Chelsea.

Wenger is believed to be preparing to reintroduce Walcott for the visit of Tottenham so that the England star can acquaint himself with his new striking partners of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck.

Sanchez has already scored twice for Arsenal since arriving from Barcelona in the summer and his presence in a frontline alongside Walcott and Welbeck is the cause of great excitement among Gooners. It's also caused a stir with some of their potential opponents, notable QPR defender Rio Ferdinand. The 35-year-old centre-back was a teammate of Welbeck's for years at Old Trafford and admitted he can't understand why Manchester United sold him to Arsenal last week for £16m.

"I cannot believe United let Danny go, especially to Arsenal. That seems mad to me," Ferdinand told The Sun. "He's a real threat to defenders and, if Arsenal use him right, he will be very dangerous for them. Danny has everything to be a top player. English football has yet to see what he can really do because he hasn't been getting a run of games... At Arsenal, he will be the main man and I have no doubt he will flourish."

Ferdinand left Old Trafford at the end of last season after 12 years, and the veteran defender isn't relishing the prospect of trying to contain the Arsenal frontline when the two clubs clash in the Premier League in December. "Imagine the pace Arsenal will have when everyone is fit. There will be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with three fliers in front of him in Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Danny. I'm telling you they would give Usain Bolt's Jamaican 4x100m team a run for their money."

In the short term, Arsenal will be hoping Welbeck avoids injury tonight when he appears in England's Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland. With Daniel Sturridge out injured, Welbeck is hoping to be given the No9 shirt in his absence after impressing in his brief appearance as a sub in last week's 1-0 win over Norway. "Monday is an opportunity," said Welbeck. "I've never had a constant run in the team at No 9 but I have faith in my ability. If I get my opportunity to do what I know I can do then great."

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