• FA Cup

Wenger defends Walcott over gesture

ESPN staff
January 4, 2014
Theo Walcott goaded the travelling Tottenham fans as he was stretchered off © Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has leapt to the defence of Theo Walcott after the forward made a '2-0' hand gesture to Tottenham fans in Arsenal's FA Cup win at the Emirates.

Following strikes from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky, Walcott was stretchered off with a knee injury late in the game. He responded with the gesture in reference to the scoreline after appearing to have coins and plastic bottles thrown at him by the away support as he was carried in front of them.

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"The doctors said to me that the coins had been raining over his [Walcott's] head and they had to protect him, maybe that is why he did that," said Wenger.

"Yes [the coins came before the gesture], that is what I have been told. After that, what he did is not offensive. You look for every single incident, I can understand that, but it is an action that didn't offend anybody."

Asked whether Walcott could be in trouble with the FA over the gesture, Wenger replied: "I don't think so. I have seen the pictures after the game and it does not even look aggressive, he is smiling.

"My response [to the FA] will be simple, they have seen the pictures on television. If they judge it offensive, what can I say? I prefer they don't ban him and he is not injured."

Wenger hinted he may be forced to dip into the transfer market depending on the severity of Walcott's injury. The Arsenal boss also confirmed Nicklas Bendtner will be out of action for a month following his ankle injury suffered against Cardiff.

He joked: "We are short [up front] because Theo is not very tall!"

"We still have [Lukas] Podolski and [Mesut] Ozil on the bench," added Wenger. "Giroud was sick, he was not injured, so for the next game he should be available. Of course if we lose Theo for a longer period, it is a problem.

"Theo has a knee problem. We don't know if it is a stretched ligament or just a kick, he got two kicks on his knee."

Wenger was also impressed by Walcott's display, after playing him in his preferred position up front due to the absence of Giroud.

"I liked what he did because he played before in that role. Today he added purpose and commitment, more decisiveness to his game, and more fighting attitude," said Wenger. "With that, he looks every time he improves in that position and with the quality of players behind him, he can be very dangerous in that position."

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