The international break is over, the Arsenal players are back with minimal casualties (touchwood) and now it’s time to prepare for the visit of Manchester United. The Red Devils are at their weakest in years, and now is our best chance to beat them comprehensively. To help us do that, several players have returned from injury over the past week. Here is the team news, as revealed by Wenger today.
Everyone has come back in decent shape. We have to check in with some players this morning, so we have lots to check today.
Giroud and Arteta are both available. It’s just a question of how ready they are. But they are available.
He [Giroud] is three or four weeks ahead of schedule. Originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year. So he’s one month ahead. The surgery went well and there were no setbacks. He is very solid and has a positive mentality – that helps.
We were reliant on Welbeck, yes, and on Sanchez as well. But we have Giroud back, we have Walcott back. Slowly they will integrate into the team again and give us different options.
Koscielny and Debuchy are doing well, they are out on the field [working] again. We have to see now. Usually field work is three weeks away from full group training. Then there is fitness. It looks straightforward for Debuchy. It’s not inflammation, it’s just repairing surgery. For Koscielny, it depends how well he responds to training. At the moment he looks good.
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Ozil is doing well but he will not be ready before the start of 2015.
Good news all across the spectrum there for the Gunners. The return of Arteta means that he will probably feature alongside either Flamini or Ramsey in a deep midfield role. Meanwhile the return of Giroud means we can afford to rest Welbeck and it also increases our tactical options. However, it might be better not to rush the striker into play. He is one month ahead of time, but maybe not fully match fit yet. I would rather rest him until he is than play him at half fitness and lose him to injury again.
And while Walcott has definitely recovered from his ACL injury, he might not be available for the game against the Red Devils. Reports say that the winger has suffered a groin strain that could see him sidelined over the weekend. He was even absent from training yesterday and Wenger was non committal about his chances to play.
I don’t think he [Walcott] will be available tomorrow.
Koscielny and Debuchy will not feature until Christmas at least, so tomorrow will be a real test for the likes of Chambers and Monreal. With world class players like Angel di Maria and Rooney coming at them, they will have to be at their best.
Meanwhile, Welbeck’s participation is still in doubt after the striker picked up a hamstring strain during England’s 3-1 win over Scotland on Tuesday. It was initially reported as a minor injury, but it might see him unable to feature against his former club.
His fitness will depend on the medical assessment this morning.
All in all, a fitter Arsenal than we have had for quite some time. Plus, United have even bigger injury problems than us, which is always satisfying. Hopefully the boys can find their top gear tomorrow and roll over United, but a part of me says that this is probably going to become a competition of who scores more wins.