Per Mertesacker is facing a late fitness test as he looks to overcome the illness which kept him out of Wednesday’s win over Olympiakos.
The towering German was rested for last weekend’s defeat by Chelsea although the subsequent defensive mishaps by Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny saw much criticism arrowed in Arsene Wenger’s direction as a consequence.
Given Sam Allardyce’s proclivity for a long-ball game and the physical presence of Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole, it seems likely that the boss will want Mertesacker available in some capacity.
There are no other injury problems or returnees, although the boss did touch on Wojciech Szczesny’s troublesome ankle and Jack Wilshere’s first action for the under-21s.
“Szczesny is two to three weeks away from practising normally. It takes five or six weeks to heal,” Wenger told journalists in his weekly press conference.
“He [Wilshere] is doing very well but we need to be patient. He needs a progressive build-up. His next game should be next week [for the Under-21s].”
It looks as though Wilshere could beat Tomas Rosicky to a first team return. Rejecting suggestions that he had hinted that the Czech captain should retire from international football, the boss said his midfielder won’t train until the end of the month.
“I never did that [ask him to retire from internationals]. He is three weeks away from training.”
It’s not the first time an international manager has picked a fight with Wenger and it won’t be the last.
As they say in Alsace…“comme l’eau sur le dos d’un canard.”
Quotes courtesy of @Arsenal