With Alexis Sánchez out, Arsenal could really do with Theo Walcott back ahead of schedule.

Otherwise, the burden to lead the line will fall on the shoulders of Olivier Giroud, Joel Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the two wide players not particularly possessing an eye for goal.

In that case, news that Walcott’s return has been delayed until around Christmas is a huge blow. That’s the claim being made by John Cross of the Mirror, but is it accurate?

Walcott hasn’t played since the end of October, when he pulled his calf in the League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

While updating on injuries, Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph appeared to have different information.

“There is better news, though, for Theo Walcott who retains hope of playing against Sunderland on Saturday and then making the Champions League trip to Greece,” Wilson said in an article published on Tuesday.

The return of Walcott for Saturday and – crucially – that Champions League game would be huge for an Arsenal side that looks light on firepower without both him and Alexis Sánchez.

The conflicting reports are odd, and we may have to wait until Arsène Wenger’s pre-Sunderland press conference on Friday morning to have a clearer picture. No training pictures have been released this week, it’s hard to even say how likely it is that Walcott is back in training ahead of schedule.

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Hopefully he will be available, at least as an option from the bench on Saturday.