Arsene Wenger will be invigorated by the return of Shkodran Mustafi as Arsenal prepare for the visit of Big Sam and his new Crystal Palace side.
Arsenal host Crystal Palace at the Emirates as one of the two fixtures on the first day of the new calendar year, that is 2017. And, as Arsene Wenger looks to gain some momentum after a troubling December, the Frenchman sees his backline receive a major boost with Shkodran Mustafi returning to full fitness.
Arsenal have registered just 1 clean sheet in the past couple of months, which came during the midweek last time out in the matchup against West Bromwich Albion. And, Wenger gave an update in his pre-match conference on some other players as well, lamenting the fact that some of the players are down with flu.
He said,“ Mustafi is fit again and we have one or two uncertainties. We have a few with flu, but everybody else should be available, and of course the long term injuries are not back, but everybody else should be available.”
Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck has returned to training after being sidelined for a long time with a knee problem. Wenger did provide an update on Welbeck, stating that he may first develop his match fitness with a game for the Under-23s and the Frenchman shall decide thereafter.
“ He’s fit, he’s sharp. Will I involve him in the short-term or not, or will I play him first in a game with the under-23s? I have not decided yet, but in training he looks quite good.”
Elsewhere, Wenger has a few injury concerns to deal with as well, with Theo Walcott the biggest miss with a calf strain. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) and Kieran Gibbs (knee) are also unavailable with their respective injuries. The Arsenal boss confirmed that Gibbs is yet to recover from his knee problem and that he is days away from being back.
“ I don’t think that Kieran will be available. He had a knee problem, a kick. He bumped into the knee of his opponent and he has an inflammation. I think it’s a question of days.”
For Crystal Palace, Damien Delaney is set to serve his one-game suspension after accruing his fifth yellow card in the fixture against Watford while the midfield duo of Joe Ledley and James McArthur, who were both sidelined with injuries, are in contention to return to the lineup to face Arsenal.