Alexis Sanchez could be risked for Arsenal' trip to Stoke on Sunday whilst new signing Mohamed Elneny is available for selection, Arsene Wenger confirmed in his Friday press conference.
The Chilean has been out with a hamstring injury since November and suffered a slight setback before Christmas. Always a tough recovery to judge, Wenger admits he has a hard decision to make.
"Sanchez has two decisive days," he said. "He’s fit. Do we take a gamble or not on his injury?”
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The Arsenal boss confirmed that no new injuries came from Wednesday's 3-3 draw at Liverpool, with upcoming returns making more January transfers unlikely. “I would prefer to have the players back from injuries," added Wenger. "Welbeck is two to three weeks away and I am confident I will not find a better player than Welbeck on the market.”
On Thursday, Egyptian international Elneny arrived in a £5 million deal from Basel. Wenger rates the 23-year-old highly but admits he must discover the midfielder's best role.
“He can defend and attack. I bought him because he can play with a defensive player or be the defensive player. But I need to know more about him to see whether he becomes a defensive or box-to-box player. He’s available for Sunday.”
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Poor at the Britannia
Arsenal fans will hope the side can bounce back from late heartbreak on Wednesday night, when Joe Allen's late equaliser enabled Leicester City to join the Gunners on 43 points. Wenger saw the game as "two points dropped" but is trying to focus on the positives, saying: “Overall it was a positive team peformance. We looked like a real team who’s up for the fight."
Their record at the Britannia Stadium is awful, winning only one of eight meetings compared to Stoke's five. It's become a bogey ground. “We have struggled in recent years. But they also have a good home record against United, City. They have improved their creative potential. It’s a good challenge for us.”
Angry Arsenal fans aimed a foul-mouthed tirade at Wenger after their last Stoke trip, calling for him to "f*** off and leave". But he didn't take it personally. "I was sad and upset more by the result than the reactions of people.
"I can understand when you love a club you want the results to be positive. That problem will be more common now, in the next two-three years. I see it [aggressive fans] in France and many countries."
General football issues
Elsewhere, Wenger was brutally honest with how he sees the transfer bans of Real and Atletico Madrid unfolding: “They will appeal, they will cancel the ban and they will be allowed to buy in the next two transfer windows. That’s what will happen.”
He also spoke out about doping in football. "In sport we celebrated heroes that were only cheats. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen. In football we ignored doping for a long time. I alerted the authorities a few times. We are too neglecting. “
Stoke v Arsenal kicks off at 4:15pm on Sunday afternoon. How do both sets of fans think the game will go? Let us know in the comments section below.