Arsenal have fought through a difficult period, maintaining a good start to the season on all fronts while their two primary wide men, Walcott and Lukas Podolski, have both been in the treatment room.
Arsenal have been forced to play several central midfield players out of position, but they have coped admirably to achieve a remarkable run of unbeaten results.
However, Arsenal are arguably better down the right hand side when Walcott is controlling that win, which makes his return important. His pace and ability to feed players in better positions is as good as any other player in the league.
“He had a setback on Thursday. He had to stop, to jog again. I don't think we will see him against Dortmund nor Crystal Palace nor Chelsea. He is at least two weeks away now,” said Wenger yesterday.
That means Wenger is aiming for a return date of November 2, when Liverpool visit the Emirates to pose one of the biggest tests that the Gunners will have faced so far this season.
A few days later, Arsenal will be in Germany for the return fixture in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund before an important Premier League clash at home against Manchester United.
A fit Walcott is a boost to Arsenal for any of those matches but how Wenger reintroduces him into the team will be interesting to watch.
The temptation will be to get him back as quickly as possible because of his ability as a wide man and the fact that Arsenal are playing with teenager Serge Gnabry as their primary winger at the moment.
If he’s not 100% for the match against Liverpool, there’s no point in risking him with the fixture against Dortmund so soon after.
Arsenal can play any team off the park at home, regardless of the players they are using and the system they have deployed but Dortmund is a very difficult place to go to in the context of Champions League football.
Arsenal can match up against any side in the world centrally, but Walcott could make the difference in that European match against last season’s Champions League runners up when the Gunners will more than likely be counter attacking.
The biggest losers here are Manchester United because even if Walcott is only used from the bench against Liverpool and Dortmund, that improves his match sharpness and his chances of starting against United on November 10.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald