An international break is normally time for Arsenal fans to worry about which of our key players will pick up an injury that rules them out for several weeks. Unfortunately, the current international break for the World Cup qualifiers has proved to be no different.
Here’s what Roy Hodgson had to say about the Walcott injury in his press conference:
“He immediately felt a slight problem in the pelvic area, went straight off the pitch and had a scan on Friday morning. It showed a slight tear in the pelvic muscle.”
As far as we are aware, Walcott will be out for our game against Reading next weekend. BBC Sport are reporting that Walcott is only out for 10 days, but other websites are saying that it could be 3 weeks. Whatever the outcome, I would like to think that a match at home against a team in the relegation zone that doesn’t even have a manager should be something we can win without Theo. I am sure that he will have a late fitness test, but in my opinion we shouldn’t risk it if he is not fit enough. The good news is that he will definitely be back in time to face Everton and Manchester United.
The rest of the injury news during the international break is pretty good. Jack Wilshere has apparently responded well to the treatment he has been receiving over the past 2 weeks and is ready to resume full training. Our talismanic midfielder could be available to play against Reading next weekend, but the situation is very much similar to that of Walcott. If Wilshere isn’t 100% fit we can play Ramsey (or Diaby or Rosicky). That said, it will be good to have him back.
The last injury to talk about is that of Lukas Podolski. Podolski has missed Arsenal’s last 2 games (vs Bayern & Swansea) with an ankle injury, but played 70 minutes for Germany against Kazakhstan. Lukas started on bench but came on after 20 minutes to replace the injured Julian Draxler. Reports that are so far unconfirmed suggest that Podolski will undergo surgery on his ankle at the end of the season, but that he should be fit enough to continue until then. We will know more about all of the injuries when Arsene Wenger talks in his pre-match press conference on Thursday or Friday.
Lukas Podolski has emerged as an injury doubt for the Bayern Munich game on Wednesday evening after revealing on Twitter that he is still recovering from a small injury. Our German forward scored our only goal against Bayern 3 weeks ago, but may be forced to sit out the trip to Munich.
No details have been given about what injury he has picked up or when it happened. All we do know is that he played about 20 minutes against Spurs last weekeend and seemed ok. It is, of course, extremely frustrating because he is one of our potential match-winning players. On his day is is fantastic to watch and often unstoppable. He will be a big loss.
More information will be available when Arsene Wenger gives his pre-match press conference, and we will know if he has travelled to Munich pretty quickly once Arsenal release the details of the 18-man squad. As far as we are aware, the only other injuries are Sagna, Gibbs and Diaby. Sagna and Diaby are expected to have recovered in time to face Bayern, but Gibbs is still short.
Arsene Wenger has given the latest team news ahead of our Premier League match against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon. The Champions League loss to Bayern Munich was a big blow, but we now have the perfect opportunity over the next 3 games to get our Premier League form back on track.
“Sagna has a problem with his knee. He will be out for Saturday certainly. I don’t think there are any other knocks really.”
“He is still out. He will be a few weeks yet.”
With Sagna injured, Carl Jenkinson will return to the starting line-up after serving his suspension for the FA Cup loss to Blackburn. It is not such a huge loss for one game against Villa, but you do have to wonder whether Sagna will be fit to face Spurs & Everton. jenkinson really showed his inexperience/naïvety against Sunderland so we want Bacary back as soon as possible.
The Gibbs injury we already knew about and that is why we signed Nacho Monreal on transfer deadline day. As far as I am aware there are no other injuries, which will stand us in good stead as we head into a difficult part of the season. It may be too late to save the Champions League tie, but 4th place (maybe even 3rd?) is well within our grasp if we have a strong end to the season.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he will not take a risk on Jack Wilshere for this afternoon’s FA Cup match against Blackburn unless he is completely convinced of Wilshere’s fitness. Referring to how our talismanic midfielder suffered burnout 2 season’s ago, Wenger says that he has to take the rest of the season into consideration. There are also short updates on Koscielny and Vermaelen, who will both be having late fitness tests. Vermaelen looks to be the most likely to be back, which could be a huge boost.
“I will not take a risk [on Jack]. [That is because I have] the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before.
“Wilshere and Koscielny have a test this [Friday] morning and Thomas Vermaelen should be back. He has a definite test today.
“We have plenty of people in training today who have a test and we’ll see how well they come out of it. I am confident 50:50 with Wilshere and Koscielny, and Vermaelen 90:10.”
On the one hand there is no doubt that we need to field a strong team and to progress in the FA Cup. On the other hand,the team that I have predicted should be more than capable of beating Blackburn without Wilshere and we want him to be as fit as possible on Tuesday to face Bayern Munich. In my opinion, there is also the opportunity to rest some of our other key players like Arteta and Cazorla. Rumours on Twitter are that the likes of Hector Bellerin, Thomas Eisfeld and Serge Gnabry could be included in the squad. We will find out for sure when the team news comes out in just under 2 hour’s time.
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Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal team news ahead of our FA Cup last 16 match against Blackburn on Saturday afternoon. The FA Cup represents our most likely chance at silverware this season, but obviously we will have to strike a balance between fielding a strong team and resting some of our key players for the Champions League game against Bayern Munich. Thomas Vermaelen could be back, although I am not sure that he will be risked against Blackburn. We need him fit for Tuesday.
Carl Jenkinson is suspended following his 2 yellow cards against Sunderland, which will only further add to our defensive problems if Koscielny and Vermaelen are not fit.
“He is looking quite good and is possibly back for Saturday. He should be in the squad.”
“He is having tests today [Thursday] and tomorrow. He is looking better. He is still a doubt for Saturday. He’s got a kick on the thigh.”
“That is a problem. He has a test today and tomorrow exactly like Wilshere.”
“He came back in the week so we are not too bad on the injury front.”
General team news
“Ramsey is alright. Sagna is alright. Jenkinson is suspended. DIaby is available again and all the other players are alright. We have two short-term problems, with Koscielny and Wilshere, while Gibbs is out. That is it.”
Below I have outlined some of the latest Arsenal team news following our 1-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.In my opinion, the news does not make for particularly good reading. Thomas Vermaelen will be out for longer than expected, Laurent Koscielny has a calf problem and Jack Wilshere has a small thigh injury.
Arsene Wenger is quoted by a Belgian newspaper as saying: “We thought that Vermaelen would only be out for a few days, but he will be out longer.” There are also claims that Vermaelen has been given an anti-inflammatory injection in an attempt to avoid surgery. However, it is very unlikely that he will be fit to face Bayern Munich next week and reports suggest that he could be out for longer than a month. Many Arsenal fans are already beginning to get on Wenger’s back and are questioning why we did not sign a centre-back in the January transfer window to replace the outgoing Johan Djourou.
Before we even kicked off against Sunderland, Arsenal.com confirmed that Laurent Koscielny was having problems with a calf injury and was to be replaced by Carl Jenkinson, with Bacary Sagna moving to centre-back. Koscielny had passed a late fitness test after picking up the injury on international duty with France, but was deemed unable to continue after the warm-up.
“It’s a calf problem. We think it’s a question of days [until he returns] because he had a positive scan. He [came off for France] at half time [on Wednesday] and we decided to give him a trial in the warm up. He was not good enough. I don’t think it’s long-term.”
Wenger also gave an update on Jack Wilshere, who was substituted after taking a knee to the thigh a few minutes into the second half. Wenger is clearly angry at referee Anthony Taylor, who he says let several fouls go, and is also said to be unhappy that Wilshere played the full 90 minutes in England’s friendly against Brazil last week. The good news is that Wenger says he hopes that Jack will only be out for a few days. The bad news is that this is Arsenal. A few days can easily become a few weeks, and we cannot afford to have our talismanic midfielder missing for the games against Bayern Munich, Spurs and Everton.
“It was a big kick on the thigh. He couldn’t walk. He doesn’t walk properly now. I hope it’s four or five days [until he’s back]… Taylor let two or three things go that I thought were fouls on Jack. I was a bit frustrated because I thought many times he didn’t get the free-kick he deserved.”
Having won just 1 of 5 Premier League games played since the New Year, there can be no more excuses if we drop points at home to Stoke. Bar the signing of Ignacio Monreal from Malaga as a last-minute replacement for Kieran Gibbs, Arsene Wenger failed to bring in any other new faces in the January transfer window. Le Boss insists that he is not worried because our squad is good enough to contend for the Champions League places as is. I am going to disagree, so I guess it’s up to Arsene to prove me wrong.
While we did come back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against Liverpool on Wednesday evening, many felt that that was not enough. We had several chances to kill off the game when we were on top so it could possibly be looked at another two points dropped at home. Given the result on Wednesday, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of today’s game.
Stoke are also coming into the game in a horrible run of form. The Potters have taken just 2 points in their last 5 Premier League matches, so this could be just the game that we need to get our season back on track. History in this fixture would seem to be on our side. Arsenal have won their last 10 home games against Stoke in all competitions; the last time they beat us at home was at Highbury in August 1981.
Team news & predicted starting XI
With Kieran Gibbs out for up to six weeks with a thigh strain, new signing Nacho Monreal could be in line to make his Arsenal debut less than 48 hours after joining the club. I am not even going to consider playing Andre Santos, while Thomas Vermalen (who could also cover at left-back) faces a late fitness test for an ankle injury. With Vermaelen out injured, the centre-back pairing should be a very obvious one.
Mikel Arteta is back in the squad after three weeks out with a calf strain, but I doubt that Arsene Wenger will put him straight back in the starting line-up. Aaron Ramsey has actually been quite good in central midfield alongside Jack Wilshere, but I would guess that Wenger will prefer the physical presence of Abou Diaby against Stoke.
The front 3 of Walcott—Giroud—Podolski would seem to pick itself. All three are in fantastic form, so the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky will have to be content with a place on the bench. Gervinho is still at the African Cup of Nations, with the Ivory Coast due to play in the quarter-finals later today.
Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City We should have the necessary quality to rip the Stoke defence apart. However, we seem to be conceding goals left, right and centre, so I am sure that Stoke will score at least one.
Arsene Wenger has given the latest Arsenal team news ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s Premier League game at home to Stoke. The big news revolves around the left-back position, with new signing Nacho Monrealavailable to step in for the injured Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs has been ruled out for longer than previously expected, Mikel Arteta is back, Thomas Vermaelen faces a late fitness test and Francis Coquelin is out.
“Gibbs is out. It will be longer than three weeks. We plan he’ll be out for four to six weeks. It’s a grade two thigh strain and could be a bit longer than expected at the start.”
“Our scouts have followed his progress for a while and of course we had a blow with the Gibbs injury… so we were in a position where we had to make a quick decision. That explains our buy.
“We bought Monreal as a left back but he can play as well as a left-sided midfielder. We bought him as well because we believe he can integrate into our style of play and adapt very quickly to that.
“He is available for the Stoke game. I have not made a decision yet.”
“Arteta is back in the squad. He has a final test this morning. Coquelin is not far from returning at all, but it would be a gamble to take him. If not able for tomorrow, he will be for the next game.”
“We have a doubt over Vermaelen, with his ankle again. I will make a decision today after training.”
The big question is what will happen to Andre Santos. On the one hand we do need a second left-back in the absence of Gibbs, especially if Monreal is not eligible to play in the Champions League. However, we could use Thomas Vermaelen at left-back against Bayern Munich. But in that case we probably needed to sign a new centre-back given that Djourou was out on loan. Wenger has admitted that we were close to another signing, but that doesn’t really help us now.
Tonight’s game comes at the end of a packed January which has seen Arsenal play 8 games in the space of 30 days. Although there were two league defeats to Manchester City & Chelsea, we had a convincing 5-1 win over West Ham last week and, unlike Liverpool, secured a place in the last 16 of the FA Cup.
Arsenal vs Liverpool is never a dull affair and tonight should not be any different. Both teams have had fluctuating league form and will be looking to keep themselves within touching distance of the Champions League places. It’s 4 points between us & 4th placed Spurs and 7 between Spurs and Liverpool. I’m not going to say that it’s a must win, but we do need to string together some good results and slowly push ourselves back up the table. The Emirates has seen more goals than any other Premier League stadium so far this season, so we could be in for a high scoring game.
Thomas Vermaelen returns to the Arsenal squad after missing our FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albionwith a small ankle injury. Mikel Arteta, Kieran Gibbs and Lukasz Fabianski are still out. Gervinho is still away at the African Cup of Nations.
Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson are all likely to return to the Liverpool starting line-up. Enrique has not played for a month because of a hamstring injury, Reina has missed a few games a thigh injury and Johnson was also suffering from a minor hamstring problem. Liverpool’s only player missing is Martin Kelly, who has an anterior cruciate ligament injury and is not due back until March.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool Arsenal won 2-0 over Liverpool back in Septemberwith goals from Cazorla & Podolski, and I see no reason why we can’t beat them at the Emirates too.Our front 4 are in sensational form at the moment. Liverpool do pose a threat, especially through Suarez and Sturridge, but I reckon that we can take them. It will be close though.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal injury news ahead of tomorrow night’s Premier League game at home to Liverpool. The only player returning to the squad is Thomas Vermaelen, who missed Saturday’s FA Cup 4th round win over Brighton & Hove Albion.Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin are still short and will probably not be available on Saturday to face Stoke. Lukasz Fabianski needs to play a game with the reserves to build up match fitness.
“Thomas Vermaelen is back available. And the players who were rested are back in contention, too.”
Francis Coquelin & Mikel Arteta
“They are a bit short – 100 per cent [they are unavailable] for Wednesday. Even for Saturday [they could be short], but there is a little chance they will be available at the weekend.”
“He is doing very well in training and now he needs to play a game.”
A full match preview (including predicted staring line-ups and match stats) will be published later. Still no transfer news to speak of, although we will keep you informed as soon as anything happens.