Who misses out as Walcott and Podolski close on returns?

As Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski return from injury, Arsene Wenger must work out who is going to be forced onto the subs bench.

The duo of Walcott and Podolski provide the Gunners with a lot of their natural width, with Walcott’s pace useful down the right and Podolski’s efficient football important down the left.

Arsene Wenger has a major headache over who he is going to leave out if he wants to inject the pair of them back into his first team as quickly as possible.

Arsenal have been superb in their absence; sitting top of the Premier League with a five point gap and well placed in the Champions League to reach the first knockout round by the end of the month.

It’s also difficult to pinpoint the consistent players on the right and left of midfield because Wenger has used so many different combinations, with players rotating effectively while Walcott and Podolski have been in the treatment room.

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It’s a little easier to look at the players who are not going to be dropped any time soon based on their current form.

Mesut Ozil has been world class since he joined the club from Real Madrid at the end of the summer, producing two goals and four assists in the Premier League so far this season.

Aaron Ramsey is another player who is not going to face the axe because he’s had the best spell of his Arsenal career so far this campaign; seven goals and five assists in Premier League and Champions League football.

Santi Cazorla has been superb since he came back into the team, working well with Ozil and rotating with the German in several different positions. The pair of them have the ability to cause chaos through the heart of the opposition because of how similar they are as players and how well they work together.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta have both proven to be effective holding players in the midfield this season and the only competition the pair of them have is each other.

See also: Was Wilshere winning Goal of the Month the right choice?

One unlucky party could be Czech Tomas Rosicky, a player who hasn’t done anything wrong but someone who is frequently used down the left and right of midfield.

That shouldn’t be a blow to Rosicky or Arsenal. Losing his place to Walcott or Podolski is the perfect motivation for him to work extra hard, making life even more difficult for Wenger.

Rosicky protects the ball superbly and links up well with all sections of the team, it would just be a difficult and unfortunate decision.

The other current player under a lot of pressure is Jack Wilshere. Someone whose central midfield position will come under threat is Walcott and Podolski take up positions on either side of the midfield.

Wilshere has picked up a slight injury problem which means he’ll have to work hard to get back into the side when he recovers from the ankle knock which stops him from playing against Dortmund tomorrow.

It’s a difficult one but Arsenal have so many good players across midfield, it’s a problem Wenger will enjoy.

With Walcott and Podolski in the side, which three midfielders would you go with?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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