Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the return of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of their clash against Stoke City.
Arsenal’s injury dreaded injury list keeps on increasing in length as there has been new additions to that list in nearly every game week recently. The latest additions at the side-lines for the Gunners are Nacho Monreal and Lorient Koscielny, both of whom were substituted during Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Sunderland at the weekend. Injuries to defensive players are harder for Arsenal to cope with as the Gunners lack depth at the back. Monreal’s injury came at a time when Kieran Gibbs is also struggling with his fitness and both are expected to undergo late fitness test ahead of Arsenal’s upcoming match against Stoke City.
But the good news for the Gunners is the possible return of Mesut Ozil to the starting line-up after the German international was rested in the match against Sunderland with a dead leg. Arsene Wenger also confirmed the return of Thomas Vermaelen following his long layoff at the side-lines.
“We have uncertainties about Monreal who had to come off last week with a foot injury, and about Gibbs. Vermaelen is back in the squad; Ozil is back in the squad. Both are available.” – The Arsenal manager said in the pre-match press conference.
If both Monreal and Gibbs fail to pass the late fitness test, Thomas Vermaelen could start as the left back, although Wenger is sceptical about starting him straight away following his return from injury.
“If needed Thomas can play there, it’s not his preferred position and he has been out for a long time now but we’ll see. I still have 48 hours to make a decision.” – Wenger added.
Laurent Koscielny is expected to recover from the knocks they picked up in the last game, while there is a big possibility of Monreal featuring in this game as well. Arsene Wenger is expected to make three changes to the starting eleven he used against Sunderland.
Jack Wilshere will start on the bench as Wenger is unlikely to risk him following the knock he picked up in the last game. Mikel Arteta will replace him in the pivot, alongside Mathieu Flamini. There will be two changes in attack with Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to return to the starting line-up, which means Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky will drop down to the bench. Rosicky put up a good performance in the last game, but Wenger is unlikely to start him in two consecutive matches.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud