Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has limited options fit and ready to fire in a host of key areas ahead of tonight's Champions League clash with Anderlecht, but is it really worth taking a chance on Aaron Ramsey in Belgium given his patchy recent injury record?
Ramsey quite surprisingly returned ahead of schedule in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Hull City, three weeks after damaging his hamstring against Tottenham Hotspur. Wenger must be tempted to throw the Welshman in from the start this evening, although in a match Arsenal are expected to win does the reward justify the risk?
Thankfully for Wenger his leading midfield maestro only missed two matches with his latest niggling injury, thanks to a timely international break, but given Arsenal's horrible injury record in recent times surely the hugely experienced tactician should err on the side of caution in this instance.
Wenger only has to look back to last season if he's searching for an excuse to protect Ramsey from further injury complications, with Arsenal missing the playmaker desperately as he spent four months out recovering with a torn thigh muscle.
Ozil & Ospina latest names on a lengthy injury list
Thankfully for Arsenal the 23-year-old has made a full recovery from last season's woes, but it was the worrying way in which Wenger greeted his latest setback against Spurs that should be cause for long-term headache.
‘It is a concern that Ramsey did his hamstring,’ he said in the aftermath of that North London derby.
‘I don’t understand because he had a good rest this week and I didn’t play him against Southampton on Tuesday.
‘It’s a surprise because he’s usually a resistant boy.’
Wenger is already without Mesut Ozil for six weeks at the very least, part of a lengthy list of absentees which is set to give Arsenal's medical staff sleepless nights over the next few months.
Excitement over Theo Walcott's long-awaited return from a cruciate knee ligament problem has been tempered by a succession of injury problems Wenger is struggling to understand, which still includes Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy.
Flamini & Wilshere must step up to the mark
Ramsey was given a shock 27-minute cameo against Hull because the Gunners struggled desperately to break down a stubborn Tigers' resistance, with a midfield line-up of Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain failing to deliver the goods.
Wenger must trust that trio to deliver against a fairly average Anderlecht side though, with Ramsey rested to make sure Arsenal are at full strength to get a victory over Sunderland on Saturday that they desperately need.
Arsenal have won just two of their first eight Premier League games, which means Wenger has to put a revival of domestic fortunes first and keep one of his shining stars back for his own good unless absolutely necessary.
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