Arsene Wenger will be without Granit Xhaka but will be buoyed by the availability of most of his players, including Danny Welbeck as Arsenal face Watford.
Wenger watched from the stands as his Arsenal side dismantled Southampton to progress in the FA Cup. But the attention now shifts back to the Premier League as the Gunners chase league-leaders Chelsea, who themselves face a tricky test at Anfield.
The Gunners have very few injury issues to worry about ahead of the Watford tie. Wenger confirmed in the pre-match press conference that all of the players who were rested or excluded from the matchday squad for the FA Cup tie are available for selection against Watford, except the suspended Granit Xhaka.
“We have some players to check from Saturday. Of course all the players who stayed behind other than Granit Xhaka are available for selection. I will decide that after training today.”
The focus, though, was on the returning Danny Welbeck, who showed his quality with a brilliant performance against Southampton, wherein he marked his return to the lineup with a brace. Wenger was questioned on the English international’s fitness level and whether his Southampton performance may see him retain his place in the eleven.
Wenger responded, “He’s very sharp but we’re still not out of it completely. We still have to be cautious with him. Where I agree is that physically he is ready to play. We still have to manage the times we use him and the times we rest him for a while. We will do that in the next month and then after, hopefully he will be completely fit.”
“Of course he has done enough to keep his place but at the moment we have to be cautious with him. I’m not sure how we’ll use him every three days. I think he’s a bit short for that. But the quality of the performance was there.”
Elsewhere, Mohamed Elneny is still away at the African Cup of Nations with Egypt reaching the semi-finals of the tournament. Xhaka’s absence will probably see the duo of Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey play as the central midfield duo for the Arsenal side.
Watford themselves are riddled with injury issues of their own, which means, Walter Mazzarri could name new signing Mauro Zarate in the starting lineup. The striker already has a previous taste of English football and could turn out to be a good piece of business for the away side.