Charlie Nicholas: Theo Walcott absence could cost Arsenal title
Charlie Nicholas feels Theo Walcott's absence for the rest of the season could cost the club the Premier League title.
Last Updated: 07/01/14 8:07am
Walcott will miss the next six months - which includes the remainder of this season and the World Cup in Brazil in the summer - after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during the FA Cup third-round win against Tottenham at the weekend.
The forward - who missed two months of the season with a stomach injury - has been in good form since his return, scoring five Premier League goals in nine starts since making his comeback in November to help Arsenal retain top spot in the table.
Over the last 18 months, Walcott is the club's second-highest scorer with 27 goals and Nicholas admits he will be a big loss to the Gunners.
"Arsenal are going to miss him badly," said the Sky Sports pundit. "If Theo had stayed fit until the end of the season, I think he would have got Arsenal the title because his pace can stretch defenders."
Nicholas says the club have options over who can fill in for Walcott on the right side of the Arsenal attack, but none of them possess the 24-year-old England international's speed.
"We've got (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain coming back, we've got (Lukas) Podolski back and also the very talented (Serge) Gnabry, who I think will be able to replace Theo in that position, but he will not be able to replace the pace or the goals," added Nicholas.
"I know he (Walcott) has always said he wants to play centre forward, but coming in from the right side, he's learnt to play the position really well over the years.
"His pace was the asset that the team will miss more than anything.
"The longer the season goes on the deeper the teams will get and I think that's the asset that Arsenal are going to miss and the goals they will certainly miss."