Who will replace injured Walcott?
NEWS that forward Theo Walcott will miss this year's World Cup in Brazil after being ruled out for at least six months with a knee injury is a cruel blow, not just to the player, but also to Arsenal and England.
It could force Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to do business this month in the transfer market. For England manager Roy Hodgson, he may need to look to Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and even Southampton for a replacement.
Walcott suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee during Premier League leaders Arsenal's 2-0 FA Cup win at home to Spurs on Saturday.
The 24-year-old did not appear in too much discomfort and caused controversy by indicating the score to Tottenham fans behind the goal as he was stretchered off.
An Arsenal statement said Walcott is "expected to be out for at least six months, therefore missing the remainder of the (English) season and the World Cup in Brazil in the summer".
Walcott, capped 36 times by England, missed two months of this season with an abdominal injury and had looked in great form since returning, scoring five goals in five games before Saturday's derby.
The injury meant that his World Cup curse continues.
He has yet to play on football's biggest stage, despite his stunning selection by then England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2006. Four years later, he failed to make the squad chosen by Fabio Capello for the 2010 edition in South Africa.
Former Arsenal and England midfielder Ray Parlour said Walcott would be a major loss for both club and country.
"What a really big injury this is for Arsenal and England, because I'm sure Theo would have been a starter for England in Brazil," Parlour told Sky Sports News.
There is now greater impetus for Arsenal, who currently top the Premier League, to buy a striker during the January transfer window. Forward Olivier Giroud is out with illness and fellow striker Nicklas Bendtner is expected to miss most of January with an ankle injury.
Tottenham's Andros Townsend is the most likely and most natural stand-in for Walcott in the England set-up.
When Walcott missed the final two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland due to injury, Townsend won rave reviews after taking his place.
Liverpool's Raheem Sterling is also reportedly in the frame, after shining for the Reds this season. So too is Southampton's Adam Lallana, who acquitted himself well in two England friendlies last year.
Earlier on Monday and before the extent of Walcott's injury was made public, the Football Association said the forward would not face disciplinary action for making a "2-0" gesture from his stretcher that appeared to be aimed at Spurs fans.