Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger is still unsure about the extent of absence of Mesut Ozil, while Aaron Ramsey’s return has been delayed by two weeks.
Arsene Wenger has to contain with an ever growing injury list ahead of this big North London Derby. There have been new additions in almost every gameweek to this list over the past few months and this has affected Arsenal’s performance recently as well. Mesut Ozil was the recent addition to the treatment table as the German international picked up an hamstring injury in the first half of their midweek clash against Bayer Munich. Ozil played with this injury throughout the first half and was eventually substituted at half-time. The extent of his injury is yet to be known and Arsene Wenger is still in dark over how long he will miss the former Real Madrid midfielder.
“He has been injured on Tuesday night and I don’t know how long exactly he will be out for but it looks a minimum of three weeks. The maximum is six.“ – The Arsenal manager said.
It seems unlikely that Ozil will return to full fitness and first team action before five weeks, which means he will miss out on some big games, starting with the match against Tottenham tomorrow. Arsenal will face Chelsea, Swansea, Manchester City and Everton during this period, and he will be in race against time to recover before the massive FA Cup Semi Final fixture against Wigan at Wembley on 12th of April.
Arsene Wenger was confident about the return of Aaron Ramsey, who last appearance for the Gunners was in the 1-3 win over West Ham United back in December, before this match against Tottenham. But the Welsh midfielder’s rehabilitation is taking longer than expected and he is set to be out for two more weeks as Wenger is cautious after forcing an early return and encountering a set-back.
“Our worry at the moment is that Ramsey takes longer than expected. He had a first setback before and now it’s slower. It was the plan for him to join in on Thursday but he still has recurrent pains in his thigh and of course he’s now a little bit apprehensive because of the setback he had. We have to be very cautious with him. When will he be back? I believe it’s two more weeks now.” – Wenger added.
The good news is that new signing Kim Kallstrom, who is yet to make his debut for the club, has recovered and is available for selection for this game. One can expect him to make it to the bench at White Hart Lane.
“He’s back in the squad and available for selection. “ – He revealed.
Arsenal also faced a crisis at the left back spot recently with both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal out of action. Thomas Vermaelen had to play in that role against Bayern Munich, and although he did a good job, the Spaniard has recovered from his knock is expected to start in this match.
“Monreal is definitely available, as for Gibbs we are not sure. “ – Wenger said.
Wenger also revealed that Yaya Sanogo is fit and available for selection after passing a fitness test and could feature on the bench against Spurs.
“He could be all right. He has a test yesterday which was positive.” – The Frenchman said in his pre-match press conference.
There are also some concerns about the fitness of Tomas Rosicky and he is unlikely to start. Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Abou remains the other long term injury concerns at the moment.
Arsene Wenger is expected to make three changes to the side he fielded against Bayern Munich in Germany. Wojciech Szczesny will replace Lukas Fabianksi in goal, despite the 28-year-old’s heroics in Munich. Nacho Monreal start at left back as Thomas Vermaelen drops back to the bench, while the injured Mesut Ozil will be replaced by Mathieu Flamini in the midfield. With Flamini and Arteta forming the pivot, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will move out wide on the right with Podolski starting on the left.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud