Mesut Ozil is set to return to the Arsenal lineup as Arsene Wenger takes his injury-riddled side to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City.
Arsenal are knee-deep in injuries, but there is one positive update on that front. Mesut Ozil, who missed the last three matches with illness, is set to travel to face Swansea City, something which will definitely boost the squad’s morale after a string of poor results and unconvincing performances.
Wenger also confirmed in the pre-match conference that the likes of Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez, who were rested in the FA Cup, are likely to return to the lineup while Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin are a week or two away from returning to full fitness.
Wenger said, “Basically we have the same players available as last week, plus Koscielny is coming back, Petr Cech is back in the squad, Mesut Ozil and Alexis as well. Hector Bellerin is still out, Francis Coquelin is still out – they could make next week, they are not far.”
Another issue is the long injury layoff for the in-form Theo Walcott, whose absence has affected Arsenal’s form to a certain extent. Wenger confirmed that the player is set to be on the sidelines for another three-and-a-half weeks, while also stating that he isn’t overly concerned with the persistent calf problems Walcott seems to be reeling under.
“Walcott is still out. He is now out for three-and-a-half weeks, and I think he will not be available for Burnley. He will need another week, two more weeks. Not concerned, because it was at the start a little calf problem, but he was not comfortable when he started to train again and we had to pull him out again.”
The other players out are midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who is away at African Cup of Nations, and defenders Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs, who are both dealing with knee injuries and are set to miss the trip to Swansea.
The injury crisis means that Wenger is set to deploy a back-four of Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal, which means that the two full-backs can’t boast of too much pace, something which the wingers of Swansea City might look to exploit.
Olivier Giroud is likely to continue to lead the front-line with Alexis Sanchez pushed to the wings, a place where he has looked less convincing in recent times. Perhaps because of his newfound affinity towards the centre forward role.