Gabriel Paulista makes surprise early return to fitness

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had a surprise injury boost to share with the media at his pre-match press conference for the Champions League showdown with Monaco, revealing that Gabriel Paulista has travelled to the Cote d'Azur after recovering well ahead of schedule from a hamstring injury.

Gabriel suffered the problem against Queens Park Rangers less than a fortnight ago and was expected to be sidelined for three weeks, but was back in full training last weekend and was included in Wenger's 19-man travelling party to the French Riviera.

The Brazilian defender could make his Champions League debut from the bench if required in the last 16 second-leg clash, but Tomas Rosicky misses out altogether after failing to recover from a sickness bug which has ruled him out of Arsenal's last two matches.

Wenger has strong squad available

Wenger was able to pick his £11.3 million January signing as defensive cover ahead of youngster Chuba Akpom, in the only change from the squad picked for Saturday's 3-0 win over West Ham United.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still unavailable thanks to a hamstring problem of his own, but at least Arsenal can make changes defensively if Per Mertesacker in particular struggles in a similar vein to the 3-1 first-leg defeat at the Emirates last month.

Team Selection promises to be interesting

The Gunners boss definitely has some tough decisions to make in terms of his starting XI this evening, with Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott both proving their worth in the West Ham success last weekend.

Ramsey was picked ahead of Santi Cazorla for that eight successive Premier League home win, while Walcott got a chance that gave Danny Welbeck a rest following his efforts in the FA Cup victory over Manchester United.

Welbeck and Cazorla will be desperate to get back in the team, while Hector Bellerin will also be chomping at the bit to get his place back ahead of Calum Chambers at right-back.

You have to expect Wenger to go for it and pick the most attacking team possible, so don't be at all surprised if Ramsey and Welbeck both get the nod after scoring in respective starts last week.

Arsenal fans, what would your starting XI be for the Monaco showdown? Do you believe the Gunners can achieve mission impossible at the Stade Louis II? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!

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