Arsenal FC will be with Kieran Gibbs in the match against Sunderland as Mikel Arteta returns to the squad after serving out his European suspension.
The clash against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, more so as Arsenal had to play with 10 men for the whole of the second half, has taken out a lot from the players. With only two days of rest, Arsene Wenger is expected to make a lot of changes against Sunderland, which is perhaps the easiest clash on paper in the next two month, so the Frenchman can afford to rest a few key players. Wenger did confirm that he will rotate his squad, but didn’t reveal to what extent.
“There will be changes – that’s for sure. How many I don’t know yet. I have to decide today after training and tonight.” – The Arsenal manager said in his pre-match press conference today.
Arsenal are the top of the injury table in the Premier League at the moment with six players facings fitness concerns. Kieran Gibbs is the latest addition to the treatment table as the left back picked up a buttock injury in the first half of the match against Bayern Munich. He joins Thomas Vermaelen, Kim Kallstrom, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby in the injury list.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been tremendous form off late, has also faced a fitness test today, but is fit for the clash against Sunderland, although it seems unlikely Wenger will risk him in this game. The positive news of the Gunners is that Aaron Ramsey is expected to return to full training by the end of this month according to reports. Mikel Arteta, who served his European suspension against Bayern Munich, will also return to the squad for this game.
“In terms of injuries, we have Gibbs (buttock) definitely out for the weekend. Nobody else is coming back apart from Arteta who is back from suspension – he will be available. That should be the squad.” – Wenger confirmed.
Arsene Wenger can make as many as five changes to the starting line-up he used against Bayern in the midweek. Nacho Monreal will replace the injured Kieran Gibbs at the left back, while Arteta will start ahead of Flamini in the midfield. In attack, it won’t be a surprise if Wenger rests Mesut Ozil for this game and plays Santi Cazorla through the middle. In that case Lukas Podolski will start from the left with Tomas Rosicky on the right in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain. Olivier Giroud is expected to return to the starting line-up for this match as Yaya Sanogo drops back to the bench.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Wilshere; Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud