Arsenal head into this Saturday’s home tie against Manchester United knowing that they have a significant advantage over their opponents virtue of some surprise late injury boosts.
Arsenal squad info
Off the back of the international break it was assumed that both sides would be forced to field weakened teams due to the spate of injuries which has swept the respective camps. United boss Louis van Gaal could be without up to 12 of his usual starters, whilst Arsene Wenger’s squad has also been ravaged since the beginning of the season.
It would appear that Lady Luck has taken it upon herself to shine ever so slightly more fervently on the Gunners however, with Wenger revealing today that both Olivier Giroud and captain Mikel Arteta are available, although neither is a certainty to feature come the weekend.
The France international hasn’t featured for Arsenal since they played West Brom at the beginning of the season, and in his absence there has been occasions wherein they have missed his presence up top. As for Arteta, his return can’t come soon enough, with the defensive faction of Wenger’s team looking shaky of late.
On top of that Theo Walcott is once more available for selection, having seemingly completely recovered from the problem which forced him out of contention for the second half of last season, and the opening three months of this one.
Yet it’s Wenger’s back-line which will worry him the most, with Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy both steadily on the mend, though at the very least three weeks away from returning to first-team action.
That means that once again the Frenchman will have to rely on a makeshift back four, and when pitted against the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney that could be the difference between winning and losing.
Having said that United have serious troubles of their own, with Van Gaal looking set to be forced to tinker with his team in order to put out an XI that has any chance of coming away with a result.
Injuries to David de Gea, Angel Di Maria, Michael Carrick and Daley Blind over the international break have heaped misery on an already unfortunate situation, and the powers of motivation possessed by United’s new coach will now be sternly tested.