Arsenal.com have revealed the 18-man squad that has travelled to the south of France ahead of tomorrow evening’s opening Champions League fixture against Montpellier. The good news is that Abou Diaby has been passed fit and is back in the squad. The one notable absentee is Wojciech Szczesny, who is suffering from an ankle injury.
Vito Mannone, James Shea
Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny
Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey
Theo Walcott, Andre Santos, Olivier Giroud, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski
Looking at the way in which Arsenal posted the squad list (the team was clearly named according to position), Andre Santos is now being included as a forward, not as a defender. Santos played on the wing in some of our pre-season games and handled it pretty well. In my opinion, he is a typical Brazilian defender – defending does not seem to be his main priority. Andre would rather just bomb forward and use a bit of his Brazilian flair, which does seem to work on occasions. With the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski and Walcott in the squad, he is unlikely to start on the wing, but is always available if Wenger wants to bring somebody off after 60ish minutes or as defensive back-up for Kieran Gibbs.
Wenger’s update on Szczesny is a little bit confusing. Le Boss’s comments, made in his pre-match press conference, would seem to suggest that Wojciech picked up a new injury in the pre-match warm-up on Saturday (against Southampton) but started anyway. In my opinion, playing with the injury did not seem to have an adverse affect on his performance. The goal that we conceded was because he miscalculated and missed the ball, not because of any problem with his ankle.
“I don’t think [his injury was a factor in Saturday's performance]. He did it before the game. I am not sure how it affected the goal he conceded. He says not but of course we had a question in our minds before the game: do we change him or not? We decided to leave him on.”
What is not clear whether this is a completely new injury or if he just aggravated the injury which saw him miss the previous two matches. Whichever it is, the outcome is the same; he is unavailable to play against Montpellier. With Lukas Fabianski also out, James Shea is in the squad. Vito Mannone will start.