Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger held his prematch press conference today. The manager was in an upbeat mood and confirmed that most of the injured players were recovering well, however it is unlikely that any new faces will be fit in time for the Southampton game. We should thus see a mostly unchanged team with one major exception; striker Danny Welbeck picked up a knock during the game against West Ham and might not be available for Thursday’s fixture.
The manager revealed that the Englishman is suffering from a thigh problem and so might not take the field at St Mary’s. But, on the bright side, Theo Walcott may be ready to take his place. The manager said that the forward, who has not started a game since January is ready to play. This injury might also create a chance for Lukas Podolski to make an appearance; with both Welbeck and Giroud absent his power and directness is something we could use up front.
The team news is that the squad will basically be the same that played at West Ham. We have an uncertainty about Welbeck, who came off with a thigh problem. I think he will be short for Thursday.
Walcott is involved because he was already in the squad. Of course I judge him a bit short on the competition front but on the fitness front he is ready to play.
In other team news, the manager admitted that he was impressed with Francis Coquelin’s performance in the game against West Ham and that he might decide to play the midfielder on a more regular basis. Currently, there is a bit of a void in central midfield with Arteta, Ramsey and Wilshere all sidelined and this might be the chance Le Coq needs to settle down at the club.
I believe he has the potential but he has played one game, so it is a bit early to judge that. He will make a career and hopefully he will make it here. I want to give him credit because he kept his work rate and focus in training at a very high level when he didn’t play. Then he went to Charlton and had a very good spell there as well
He also hinted that he might field an unchanged squad and said that he does not believe in unnecessary rotation.
We have Southampton which is another game that will demand a high intensity and commitment, so I will have to look at how we recovered because we gave a lot in the last two games in 48 hours. It’s down now to the quality of the recovery.
Rotation is a sensitive subject because you can destabilise your team with too much rotation. So you have to find the right numbers for rotating the team. Overall, you want to keep the balance of your team and as well refresh sometimes in the positions where players are a bit tired
The manager also confirmed that Tomas Rosicky would definitely be in the squad for the game:
Rosicky will be back in the squad because he was rested. Giroud is still suspended. I will have to make a decision on who will come back, but Rosicky will come in for sure.
So all in all, we are ending the year on a high note as far as injuries are concerned. With several more players set to return early in the New Year, it looks like we will have a strong start to 2015.