Arsene Wenger has given his team news ahead of the FA Cup clash with Southampton and confirmed that two stars have returned to training. Mathieu Debuchy and Per Mertesacker have both missed some time but Wenger said that the pair will return to full training on Friday (via Arsenal.com).
Matchday: Match Preview – Team News – Betting Preview
Match: Southampton v Arsenal
Stadium: St. Mary’s Stadium
Kick-Off (GMT): Sat 22 Jan 17:30
It hasn’t always been the case in recent years but here we are in January and Arsenal have a near-full strength squad. Injuries have ravaged the Gunners squad in recent seasons with key players missing key periods but now it seems that almost every player on the books is fit and ready to play.
There are a number of obvious exceptions. Jack Wilshere is out on loan for the rest of the season and Santi Cazorla is still out injured. Also missing is Mohamed Elneny who is away at the African Cup of Nations and after Egypt’s win last night, he will be there until at least next week.
“Walcott is back in the squad and we lose Xhaka through suspension,” Wenger confirmed in his pre-match press conference. “Elneny is at the African Cup of Nations, the good news is that Mertesacker and Debuchy are back in full training from tomorrow. We have a strong squad but in midfield, we are a bit short.”
He’s certainly right to say the Gunners are short in midfield. Four of the six central midfielders in the squad are currently unavailable meaning Arsenal will have to play Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin for the next few weeks.
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The boss also spoke about Mathieu Debuchy and after repeatedly being linked with a move away from the club, argued that he could have a future at Arsenal after all. “[The transfer reports have] gone quiet because I didn’t close the door,” Wenger confirmed.
“There is a lot of competition on the right flank, Gabriel has been convincing on the right. He’s fully fit and available to play and even maybe to have an experience somewhere else.”
So that’s it as far as the team news is confirmed. Arsenal have a strong squad everywhere except for the centre of midfield. That was a position which the Gunners probably had the most strength in depth going into the season but at the moment, they could do with some reinforcement. I wonder what Kim Kallstrom is up to these days…