Speaking at a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sunderland, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger provided updates and team news.
The major news is that midfield dynamo Jack Wilshere will miss the game as he is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Hull last week. Wilshere has been one of the standout players for the Gunners so far this season, and his workrate and determination have earned him praise in both the Arsenal and England setups.
With Wilshere out however, that paves the way for Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman, back from a short injury hiatus, started in the game against Anderlecht alongside Wilshere in midfield. But neither performed anywhere near their potential, lending further weight to the rumour that the two cannot play together. Tomorrow will be a chance for Ramsey to perform without Wilshere and for us to see whether the rumours are indeed true.
Also, Theo Walcott will also not feature tomorrow. The forward is just returning from a nine month spell on the sidelines, and despite him playing in an Under-21 game last week, Wenger feels that he is still not ready. He may still be named on the bench, but Wenger said that he is content to wait until he is sure the Englishman is fully recovered before playing him.
Laurent Koscielny, meanwhile, continues to be sidelined due to tendonitis, and Wenger today said that he cannot provide a date for the defenders’ return. This means that for the next few games, either Chambers or Monreal will have to partner Mertesacker in central defence.
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Wenger told the media:
We have to check a few players but we have no major injuries from the game at Anderlecht. We’ll lose Jack Wilshere, who is suspended. Everyone else should be available.
[on Theo Walcott making a return] I am not sure whether to involve him at Sunderland. It will be certainly next week. He has to get used to contact again. He has been out for nine months. It was a big injury and it takes time to settle so he has to get used to being kicked again. He has a game that exposes him and he needs to feel completely confident. But he is not far. I think fitness-wise he is there. As for playing a part in the game, I think he needs a little bit more time on the contact front.
[on Koscielny’s fitness] I cannot give you any date because we go day-by-day with him at the moment. I hope that after the next international break he will be available again. Before that I don’t think so.