Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger provides update on the team news and insists Giroud and Ozil are likely to return to the starting line-up against Aston Villa.
Arsenal travel to face Aston Villa on Monday as they look to retain their place at the top of the table. The Gunners’ lead at the top has now been reduced to just one point with both Manchester City and Chelsea breathing down their neck. Arsene Wenger’s men are currently on a four match winning streak and have bounced back well from their defeat at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City. After conceding six goals in that game, Arsenal have now kept four clean sheets in their last five matches in all competitions, which includes a memorable 2-0 win over local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in their FA Cup clash last week.
But the London club have suffered a huge blow in that game as Theo Walcott was stretchered off in that game after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and the England winger has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Walcott joins the long-term concern list which also includes Abou Diaby and is expected to be out for six month at least.
“He has surgery and then it’s rehab. You know that it is six months and you hope it all goes well. The only thing I can say is it’s very sad news for us and above all for him.“ – The Arsenal manager said.
But the good news for Arsenal is that Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is close to returning to first team action after featuring in their U-21 game against Fulham. Chamberlain, who last played against Aston Villa in the league, in their opening game of the season, is likely to make it to the squad, but is unlikely to feature in the game straight away.
“It is unbelievable because he played the first game of the season, against Aston Villa, and now he is back and available and it is against Aston Villa again. That makes it five months where has been completely out, so that means he is fresh and that should give us a boost.” – Wenger added.
Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have also been absent from the side recently due to injuries and Wenger insists that the duo are closing to returning to full fitness and have a chance of making it to the squad against Aston Villa as well.
“Ramsey and Gibbs are very close. There is a small possibility that both of them could be available on Monday.” – He said.
Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil are likely to start in this game, while Nicklas Bendtner is still three weeks away from returning to first team action. Thomas Vermaelen, who also picked up a knock against Tottenham and was substituted, is unlikely to feature as well.
“They [Giroud and Ozil] had a good training session yesterday and today they had no problem. They could be back.
“Bendtner, you count three weeks from now until he is back in training.
“Vermaelen had a little knee problem so he had to come off against Tottenham. He could be short for Monday but there’s still a chance. But everybody else should be alright.” – The Frenchman explained ahead of the game.