Until the West Brom game, there was an optimism among the Arsenal fans thanks to the imminent return of many key players and also that the recovery of Hector Bellerin was complete. Just when they felt that everything was going right in the injury department, Arsenal lost a player whose name is placed before any other name in the starting line-up.
For the past one year, he has been the unprecedented first choice in his position, and very important to the team. A knee injury to French midfielder Francis Coquelin, which will be keeping him out for as long as 3 months, has come as a big blow to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Having failed to find a proper competition to Francis Coquelin in the defensive midfield position, the main fear among Gooners has been the fear of an injury to their midfield enforcer. And that was exactly what happened in the 2-1 reverse at Hawthorns.
More than the result, this was more disappointing. Injury to Mikel Arteta means that Arsenal will have to make do with Mathieu Flamini or Calum Chambers in that position, at least till the window. Calum Chambers seems to be the likelier of the two, because Arsene very recently hinted that by mentioning that he has been “educated” in that position.
Aaron Ramsey is back in training, but it still remains unsure if he will make the match-day squad. On the other hand, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return is scheduled for the weekend game against Norwich.
Other names in the ever long list of injured first team players, which includes Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all out for both this game and the one against Norwich, at the least. There are no other notable absentees.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide might as well get a nod in the first team today since, as he was absent from the U-19 matches, which otherwise featured Alex Iwobi, Ismail Bennacer and Krystian Bielik. Among the senior players, Nacho Monreal is likely to be rested as Wenger also has an eye on protecting his players, which will see Kieran Gibbs starting at left back.
Gabriel might start ahead of Per Mertesacker as he didn’t feature in the weekend fixture. Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell and Olivier Giroud are all expected to start.
Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Santi Cazorla, Joel Campbell, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud.
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