Arsenal have been handed a double boost, with Cesc Fábregas available for selection for Saturday’s friendly at Benfica, after taking a full part in the club’s open session day amidst Barcelona rumours and a troublesome hamstring, and Theo Walcott intending to declare his fitness for the following weekend’s season opener against Newcastle United.
Fábregas trained with the squad in front of fans at the Emirates Stadium as part of an event for club members today. He was then due to take his place as club captain in the team photograph but the shoot was postponed due to the poor weather, though he did apparently pose for interior shots alongside other members of the first-team squad. Fábregas will fly with the side on Friday to Portugal, with Arsène Wenger will be keen to involve him on Saturday for his first outing with the Gunners in months.
Walcott returned to light training on Wednesday and felt no reaction to the ankle he twisted at a training camp in Germany. He will step up his rehabilitation in the coming days, and he hopes to continue his rehab by integrating some ball work into his training once again.
Although he will not feature on Saturday or in England’s friendly against Holland next Wednesday, with a week of full training the winger feels that he should be ready for Newcastle. Wenger, though, could be more cautious as Walcott’s injury is a minor recurrence of the serious ankle twist he suffered against Stoke City last February, which ruled him out for five and a half weeks.
Arsenal will discover their first Champions League opponents on Friday as they will face a two-leg play-off in order to enter the group stages of the prestigious European tournament. Their potential opponents are Rubin Kazan, Udinese, Odense, Twente or FC Zürich. The opening leg will be played on 16 or 17 August and the return a week later.
More to follow…