Could Wilshere and Walcott's return disrupt Arsenal?

With both players nearing a return from injury lay-offs, Arsene Wenger needs to be careful he does not disrupt Arsenal's fine form when bringing them back into the side.

Arsenal's recent performances in the Premier League have put them in a position where they can take a commanding seven point lead over Tottenham Hotspur before their North London rivals get a chance to play again.

Home games against Norwich City and Everton are followed by a trip to Fulham, with Arsenal looking more than capable of winning all three matches before Spurs face a tricky match against Manchester City.

In amongst all this optimism, the fact that two key players, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, are close to returning from injury would nominally be considered another boost to the team as they propel themselves into next season's Champions League, but is there a chance that changing the team to allow Wilshere and Walcott to return will disrupt the side?

Walcott's form has dipped substantially since his fine run from November to January, and over the past few matches Gervinho has been effective playing on the flank of Arsenal's attack, scoring twice and setting up three in the last three matches.

Bringing Wilshere back into the side would also mean a rearrangement of the midfield, which is currently working well with Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey playing behind Gervinho, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla. The three attacking midfielders in particular have all been in good form, with Rosicky showing the class that helped Arsenal overtake Tottenham Hotspur this time last season.

Wilshere and Walcott are clearly both excellent players, but in their absence people like Ramsey, Gervinho and Rosicky have stepped up admirably, and Wenger will have some tricky decisions to make as he looks to bring his star players back into the team.

Having three games in a week should help him ensure everyone gets a chance to impress, but Wenger cannot be afraid of keeping Wilshere and Walcott on the bench if their understudies continue to impress in the starting eleven.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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