Football - Wenger boosted by forward options

Arsene Wenger believes the return to fitness of England forward Theo Walcott and imminent recovery of Germany international Lukas Podolski means Arsenal are not under extra pressure to buy another striker in January.

PA Sport

The Gunners resume domestic action on Saturday looking to respond from the 1-0 defeat at Manchester United with victory over third-placed Southampton to stay top of the Barclays Premier League.

Walcott is set to face his old club following some two months sidelined by an abdominal problem which needed surgery. Podolski, meanwhile, is on course to be available again by the end of December after being out since August 27 with a hamstring injury.

Wenger feels being boosted by some more attacking options - which also include unsettled Denmark international Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo, who should be fit from his back problem in January - eases the urgency to bring in cover for lone frontman Olivier Giroud.

Asked if having Walcott and Podolski fit made it less critical to go into the transfer market for a new striker, Wenger said: "Yes, Podolski is not back as well (yet), but he shouldn't be too far now.

"Theo gives us an opportunity to be a mobile striker. If we lose Giroud today we have nobody with body weight up front, apart from Bendtner.

"I think Bendtner has the level, but at the moment he doesn't get enough games - and as well, in his head, is he here or has he planned to go (in January)?"

Wenger continued: "Theo gives us qualities that other players haven't got, it is a different option.

"We have a lot of players who like to come to the ball, so to have one or two who go behind and create space in the middle, it gives us options to score."

Arsenal have been linked with a January move for Real Madrid's France international Karim Benzema.

It would not be the first time Wenger had the opportunity to bring in reinforcements aimed at sustaining a long-overdue title challenge through to May.

Whether or not Arsenal will move when the transfer window reopens remains to be seen, but Wenger insists it can only be for the "right player".

He added: "I don't say I never make a mistake - I certainly made some, sometimes it is because we didn't sign the right player.

"But it is always difficult in the middle of the season. If somebody is doing well somewhere, the clubs do not necessarily want to sell him. They can wait until the end of the season.

"Most of the time it is because we didn't find (him)."

Walcott came through the Southampton youth set-up at the same time as Gareth Bale, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who joined Arsenal in August 2011 for £12million, is another of their products.

Current Saints captain Adam Lallana is the latest graduate to receive a senior international cap, of 12 players from the youth system to have featured in the south-coast club's matchday squad.

Wenger feels the importance of such work done with home-grown young players cannot be overrated.

"The real question is at what age can you think you have produced a player?" he said.

"In the case of Fabregas, he came here at 16, so Barcelona will say 'We produced Fabregas' and we can say 'We produced Fabregas'.

"Any player who comes out of Southampton when they are 16, comes out (into the first team) at 20, so they are produced by Southampton.

"For me, Walcott has been educated at Southampton.

"I consider today that a top, top, top Premier League club produces a player when they take a player at 17 and are bold enough to educate him and play him in the Premier League.

"Theo went to the (2006) World Cup without any starts in the Premier League.

"He is a combined education from Southampton and Arsenal. That how you can basically call it."

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