Arsene Wenger’s troubles with the availability of players for the crunch weekend clash against Liverpool have been given a little boost, as two of the quickest players in the squad, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott are expected to become available for the Sunday trip to Anfield according to the Guardian.
There had been doubts about the potential involvement of Oxlade-Chamberlain going by his forced substitution against Newcastle due to what appeared to be a groin strain. The Ox has been one of Wenger’s most important players this season, whether being used as part of the forward line, or more recently, in a central midfield role where he has hugely impressed in the last two games. In the absence of the more established midfielders Ramsey, Arteta and Wilshere, the 21-year old has even assumed a more significant value to Wenger, and in the manager’s words, “we cannot afford to lose him”.
He must indeed be grateful, then, that his groin injury was not as pressing as thought, even if it may still require an injection to prevent it from becoming more serious that it is at the moment.
Walcott has also recovered from his own agonies of the groin and will be in the squad for the Liverpool clash. Since making a first return this year in the home game against Burnley, Walcott is yet to play a starting role in any game, having made only one other substitute appearance in the defeat of Swansea. He may not be thrust straight into the heat of the action at Anfield as you would expect Wenger to take the cautious approach to manage his return in such fashion that won’t see him out again anytime soon.
The availability of both players bode well for the team going into such an important game as they are both crucial to the way we play and could be key to achieving three points against the Reds. The Ox has providing a direct force from central midfield, helping to push attacks from the middle while the other quick wide players set themselves up for his pass. While he went all the way to set up an assist for Ramsey against Galatasaray, his pace and directness fed Bellerin who was well positioned to cross for Giroud’s cute finish against Newcastle.
The few minutes against Burnley could have seen Walcott both score and assist, showing sparks of the threat he carries and can bring to our team when fully fit. It is worth noting that he was a part of that drubbing at Anfield last season, and he will be looking to show his qualities if picked at an point to be involved in the game.
As well as the pacy duo, Calum Chambers will also return to the squad for the Liverpool trip, to complete the trio of our ex-Southampton players who will be re-united with former teammates, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren.
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