Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has declared that Mesut Ozil could make a surprise return to the side for Saturday's FA Cup third round tie with bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with his recovery from a shoulder injury ahead of schedule.
Ozil has missed Arsenal's last two matches with a problem picked up ahead of last Sunday's trip to Newcastle United, his first absence since making a sensational £42.4m switch from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day.
Wenger erred on the side of caution by predicting that Ozil will probably still be just short of fitness by the time Spurs arrive at the Emirates this weekend, but admitted he was positive over the German international's long-term fitness and a swift return to the starting XI.
In his post-match press conference following a dramatic 2-0 win over Cardiff City this afternoon the Frenchman said: "The specialist says Ozil could be ready for Saturday, there is no big damage.
"I believe he will be short for Saturday but ready for Aston Villa."
A Monday night trip to Villa Park on January 13th looks the most realistic proposition of seeing Ozil back in action, with Arsenal stars Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey also hoping to be fit for that clash.
The Gunners have kept their Premier League title charge on track despite Ozil's absence, winning at Newcastle before beating Cardiff with two goals in the final three minutes this afternoon.
Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott were the players on target, keeping Arsenal top of the table by a single point from Manchester City, with Chelsea another point behind in what is quickly becoming a terrific title tussle.