Cleaning helmets and stitching worn punching gloves are part of the rudiments involved in preparing for combat games like Rugby and Boxing. We play Stoke on Sunday and there may be no helmets and gloves but the mindset is basically the same. Every piece of available warfare we can afford, we will need, so it must be good news that as many as FOUR first team players have returned to the squad for this weekend’s ‘clash’ with Stoke.
Wenger made this known in Friday’s pre-match presser for the visit of Mark Hughes’ men on Sunday afternoon and there was much from him to delight every gooner, not least the return of Mesut Ozil.
The three-time consecutive German Player of the Year has not played since October and has had to endure three months of knee treatment. His passion for Arsenal has kept him ever close to activities on the pitch and has regularly attended games at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez has been on the type of form that makes you forget just how good the mercurial German can be – and make no mistake, Ozil is yet to play his best at Arsenal. What’s more, he can now get on with forming the long expected partnership with Theo Walcott. There were virtually no runners in our team last season but with Alexis, Welbeck and Theo available, the Ozil of Madrid will now truly arrive at the Emirates.
Wenger has revised the system a little in his absence, with Santi Cazorla the notable beneficiary in his absence, but the manager is under no illusion as to the value Ozil can still add to the team despite a mixed start to the season before his injury. Ozil made his Emirates bow against Stoke in September 2013 but Wenger has yet to decide on whether to ignite a repeat of those memories
“He will certainly be available for selection on Sunday. Will I start him or not? I haven’t decided yet.” Wenger said according to the clubs official Website.
Also of crucial importance is the return of Ramsey. An unfortunate hamstring strain, which looked slight at initially, has kept him from building on a commando performance against Galatasaray and has left us short in midfield options too. Coquelin had to be immediately recalled from Chalrton after Rambo’s injury, the young Frenchman impressing enough in defensive midfield though not with same forward contributions that have become synonymous with the 24-year old Welshman.
Perhaps it is Flamini who will be more bothered about Coquelin’s improvements; if the Stoke XI were to be chosen by the fans, the younger Frenchman looks set for a fifth consecutive start. Flamini has not played since the win against Newcastle but his experience and toughness (we wish!) would put him in line to start.
Giroud has served all three games of his ban for the red card on Boxing Day and with Welbeck’s hamstring not yet well strung into shape, he could expect to start up top in what will look like a renewed forward line, henceforth. Walcott is back, so is Ozil, it could mean the development of a new system to integrate Alexis and Cazorla into what should be a terrific set-up if it works out well.
It’s going all good now. Hope we don’t lose anyone from after the game, while we gain all the points.
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