Arsene Wenger will be without a host of first team players for the Champions League clash with Anderlecht on Wednesday, especially 2nd choice goalkeeper David Ospina.
The Colombian International had suffered a recurrence of the thigh concerns that has plagued him since after the World Cup, in which condition he signed for Arsenal early in August. Ospina was supposed to join up with Jose Pekerman’s squad for their International friendly in the USA against El Salvador and Canada but had to be recalled due to complaints in his thigh. He’s subsequently failed the tests run, definitely ruling him out of all engagements on Match Day 3.
It means 22-year old goalkeeper Damian Emiliano Martinez would be in goal for us, as Szczezny won’t be eligible due to suspension. Ospina’s injury is the only new concern we have going to Belgium, beside the Koscielnys and Ozilss who had been unvailable as at Saturday.
The good news is that Jack Wilshere has been confirmed free of any injury and is available for selection. The midfielder seemed to have jarred his knee in a challenge with a Hull City player on Saturday and had to be subbed off. Wenger has subsequently stated there are no issues with the perennial ankle injurer. Wilshere will contest his place with Aaron Ramsey who returns after over a month out, having last featured against Spurs in the North London derby.
Captain Mikel Arteta will be looking to reclaim his place in the team after also making his return from a spell on the siddelines. The 33-year old has been in and out of the team for much of the early stages of this campaign, though he’s featured in the two previous Champions League Matchdays. It will be on his mind to do better than his fellow comrade Flamini as the jury remains divided on which of the two should be regarded as the lesser evil.
Walcott and Gnabry have also made their returns to full training, even getting some action with the U-21s on Friday evening at Meadow Park. They are still short of full fitness and are not expected to feature. Diaby also played in that U-21 engagement. It remains to be seen when he’ll become fit enough to be fully re-integrated into the first team, his solitary appearance this season being the 60 minutes he got in the League Cup defeat.
There’s little good news from the ward of the long-term absentees as Olivier Giroud is said to be making accelerated progress on his damaged tibia. The frenchman last featured at Goodison Park after he got us the last gasp equalizer as a substitute. He may not be the most impressive with his finishing but his aerial advantage has been missed in attack. Perhaps, we’d be converting more corners if he was around.
On a smaller scale, Isaac Hayden will not travel to Belgium due to an injury he suffered in training before the Hull game. But another rookie Semi Ajayi trained with the team today and looks set to make the squad to will travel to Belgium.
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