Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger delighted with France’s qualification and it’s positive impact on the Arsenal squad. Wenger also explained why Theo Walcott and his return from injury will be crucial for the side.

Arsene_Wenger(c)squarespace(dot)comThe international break is over and normal life resumes this weekend. Arsenal host Southampton at the Emirates tomorrow as they look to bounce back from the disappointing loss at the hands of Manchester United in their last league game. The Gunners still lead the points table but their lead at the top has been reduced to just two points. With Liverpool facing a tough away trip to Everton, Arsenal have to opportunity to extend their lead once again, but this match against Southampton will be no walk in the park.

Southampton are currently third in the league table and have been the surprise package of this season so far. They have already defeated Liverpool away from home and managed to hold Manchester United for a draw at Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger knows that his side will have to be at their best in order to get a positive result in this game.

Arsenal had a lot of players away for the World Cup Qualifiers during the international break, specially the French contingent who managed to clinch a place in Brazil with a dramatic result in the second leg. Although such games takes a lot of the players, Arsene Wenger insists that the positive result will help in improving the atmosphere in the dressing room as well.

“That is the problem of course but still, you want overall the players to be in a positive mood, to have a good self-esteem, and that of course comes by thinking you have the job done,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“I have a smile on my face because first it was a relief [for France] to go through. You have to give credit to Ukraine, they were unlucky, a little bit, because they got a man sent off and they conceded an offside goal. Overall you could not forget that Ukraine gave a fantastic resistance.

“It’s positive for France because it was a big relief and the country needed it.

“There is a lot of unrest between the French national team and the country, since South Africa [at the 2010 World Cup], and that they could turn a situation like that in a positive way will help people to love the national team again.” – The Arsenal manager told the press.

Arsene Wenger also explained why the return of Theo Walcott was important for the side. He insisted that the Englishman with his ability to run behind the defence provides the crucial balance in the attack and provides option for the play-makers in the side.

“He is one of the players who goes behind [the defence] without the ball. Strikers who get behind the defenders is a very important quality and Theo [Walcott] has that quality.

“Of course you miss a player like Theo Walcott. Theo had a good start to the season, he scored goals, he provided chances and had assists. He can always give you a different option in the game and that is of course vital.

“You always want to have a perfect balance [in attack],” Wenger added. “If you look at our results our balance was not too bad.

“But Theo has different qualities to other players and I am very pleased that he’s back.” – Wenger insisted.

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Arsene Wenger has assured that Theo Walcott is full fit and will be part of the squad which will face Southampton. But he might be a bit rusty due to lack of match practice and is likely to come on as a substitute in the second half of the game.

“Theo will be back for Saturday in the squad. He’s completely fit again. He has not played for a long time, of course, he has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday. Yes [I will use him cautiously].” – Wenger said.

There are still doubts about the fitness of Tomas Rosicky and he will undergo a late fitness test before the game to confirm his availability. Wenger stated that Lukas Podolski is also on track with his recovery and could return to first team action in three weeks.

“Tomas was ill, he had one or two [normal] training days, he could be in the squad as well on Saturday. We have a final test on Friday.

“Podolski is not too far away, I would say three weeks. He is doing fitness training on the pitch. He starts to do some ball work too, he still needs two or three weeks before we see him on the pitch for Arsenal.” – He added.

Ryo Miyaichi is also out of contention for the game against Southampton, while Wenger also provided updates on long term absentees like Diaby and Sanogo.

“Ryo has a hamstring problem that he got from the Norwich game, he will be out for Saturday.

“Chamberlain is at least one month, Sanogo is January, Diaby will be March.” – The Frenchman concluded.