Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Olivier Giroud is available for this weekend's Premier League showdown this weekend, giving the French international every chance of making a stunning early return from an injury that was expected to rule him out until at least Christmas.
Giroud suffered a broken foot in the dying minutes of a match against Everton in August, a cruel injury blow which prompted Wenger to sign Danny Welbeck in a £16 million deal on transfer deadline-day.
The Gunners are slowly getting over the worst of a shocking injury criss which has blighted their season to date, with Giroud's return part of a double injury boost for the Gunners ahead of United's visit to the Emirates on Saturday evening.
Giroud & Arteta both back in contention
Ahead of the crunch clash with United Wenger used Arsenal's official website to give an injury update on all his long-term absentees, stating: "Giroud and Arteta are both available. It's just a question of how ready they are. But they are available.
"He (Giroud) is three or four weeks ahead of schedule. Originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year. So he's one month ahead."
Wenger's attacking options significantly boosted
Giroud is highly unlikely to be thrown in from the start against United, but after a fortnight's full training should be fit enough to take a place on the bench.
Wenger will have a whole host of options to change the game if United prove difficult to break down, with Theo Walcott also pushing for a recall after recently returning from a cruciate ligament injury.
Walcott and Giroud should help ease the burden on Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, the forwards tasked with keeping Arsenal's Champions League challenge afloat.
Koscielny still some way off return
Arteta will also be in consideration for a return to the starting XI this weekend, but one player Arsenal need back desperately who can't be called upon is Laurent Koscielny.
Wenger once again pleaded patience when it comes Koscielny's recover from tendinitis in his Achilles tendons, while its a similar story with the slow grind towards full fitness for Mathieu Debuchy.
When quizzed about the French duo Wenger responded: Koscielny and Debuchy are doing well, they are out on the field [working] again. We have to see now. Usually field work is three weeks away from full group training. Then there is fitness.
"It looks straightforward for Debuchy. It's not inflammation, it's just repairing surgery. For Koscielny, it depends how well he responds to training. At the moment he looks good."
Despite waiting on key defenders the long-term picture for Arsenal on the injury front finally looks positive, but that will count for little if they fail to beat a Man United side who are themselves in need of an extension to an overworked treatment table ahead of a massive match on Saturday.
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