Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has guaranteed Wojciech Szczesny a return to his starting XI for Monday night's massive FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United, if he can pass a fitness test later today.
Szczesny wasn't even well enough to make the bench for Wednesday's 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers, after falling ill earlier this week.
The Polish international will replace David Ospina as long he comes through training unscathed today, with Nacho Monreal also being monitored closely with a view to featuring at Old Trafford.
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Wenger is adamant the under-fire £100,000-a-week stopper deserves the chance to shine at Old Trafford, in arguably Arsenal's biggest game of the season given their capitulation against Monaco in the Champions League last week.
Ospina has started Arsenal's last eight Premier League games but will most likely be back on the bench for the FA Cup, which means Szczesny will return to the ground where he made his full Arsenal debut in a meaningful capacity.
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Gabriel's absence confirmed
Elsewhere in a lengthy pre-match press conference Wenger confirmed that the hamstring injury Gabriel Paulista picked up in the first half of the midweek win at Loftus Road will keep him out for at least two weeks, possibly even three in a worst-case scenario.
Gabriel had been picked to start in successive matches for the first time since completing a January move to the Emirates before that setback, which means its back to a centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for the trip to Manchester.
Arsenal fans will expect to see a vastly improved Mertesacker from the man who floundered against Monaco, with Gunners fans desperate to see a performance far more like the one which helped Wenger's men earn a 2-0 win at the Etihad the last time they visited Manchester.
Monreal the only other potential return
Gabriel joins an injury list still featuring long-term absentees in Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta and once again Jack Wilshere, but Monreal does have a chance of handing the Gunners a boost by being fit to rival Kieran Gibbs for a starting spot against the Red Devils.
Monreal will struggle to displace Gibbs following a performance at Loftus Road that featured two assists, but the Spanish international is a versatile option Wenger would love to have on the bench as Arsenal attempt to book a semi-final spot against a familiar foe.
Arsenal fans, do you think Szczesny deserves to start against United on Monday night? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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