Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is facing an anxious wait to find out if star forward Alexis Sanchez will be fit to face Manchester United this weekend, while Danny Welbeck also remains a huge doubt and Theo Walcott has effectively been ruled out altogether.
Sanchez will be assessed later today by Arsenal medical staff after returning late from international duty. The 25-year-old played full 90 minutes and opened the scoring in Chile's clash with Uruguay on Wednesday night, but will need his prove his fitness to Wenger in order to continue a remarkable recent run of goalscoring form against the Red Devils.
Welbeck meanwhile picked up a hamstring problem during England's 3-1 win over Scotland in midweek, with both now facing a race against time to make sure they're in Wenger's starting XI for arguably Arsenal's biggest game of the season to date.
Giroud back, Walcott out
Wenger's pre-match press conference was very much mixed bag for Gunners fans in terms of team news, with perhaps the most positive update confirmation that both Olivier Giroud & Mikel Arteta are fit and in contention for a welcome return.
Giroud's comeback from a broken foot is more than a month ahead of schedule and provides Arsenal with a different, more physical option in attack, but he won't be joined on the bench by fellow long-term absentee Theo Walcott.
Wenger faces delicate balancing act
Walcott will almost certainly be sidelined once again this weekend after picking up a groin problem training with England earlier this week, but in truth Arsenal have been coping without the speed demon all season and would not have expected him to start for the first time since January in such a massive match.
In his chat with the press at London Colney this morning Wenger said: "Theo could not practice yesterday – I don’t think he will be available tomorrow. He has a little bit of a tight groin. I have to check Sanchez, Welbeck had a little hamstring problem.
“Arteta and Giroud will be available. We planned him [Giroud] to be back in January. He is not there of course in the competition front but is in decent physical shape. He worked very hard to be back early and it worked."
Welbeck will be desperate to shine
Much of the focus in Wenger's presser unsurprisingly surrounded Welbeck, who will come up against United tomorrow if fit for the first time since sealing a £16 million deadline-day switch to the Emirates.
Welbeck will be chomping at the bit to show Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal he deserved the chance to shine in attack, in an Arsenal side which failed to score against United in two disappointing matches last season.
Arsenal fans will be desperate to see a vast improvement from their injury-hit squad against a bitter traditional rival tomorrow, but much may depend on which of their exciting attacking options is fit and ready to fire.
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