Arsenal will be boosted by the return to fitness of two key players ahead of a game Arsene Wenger has proclaimed ‘vital’ against West Ham. The Premier League match, which was meant to be played on Boxing Day but was postponed due to a tube strike, should see the return of Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who both overcame their recent bouts of illness.
Mikel Arteta has recovered quickly from his calf problem but while he may return sooner than later an appearance against The Hammers seems unlikely. Tomas Rosicky is also out with a calf problem while Francis Coquelin injured his hamstring against Chelsea and will be absent.
Abou Diaby faces fitness test ahead of the game so Arsenal have worries in the heart of midfield with Aaron Ramsey likely to start. Gervinho is at the African Nations Cup while Lukasz Fabianski is a long-term absentee.
West Ham have no new injury concerns ahead of the game with Andy Carroll, George McCartney and James Collins absent. Maraoune Chamakh is unavailable due to being on-loan from Arsenal while Modibo Maiga is at the African Nations. Wellington Paulista could feature.
Arsene Wenger has admitted that he may have to spend in order to secure his team a place in the Champions League next season. Wenger believes the club may not have the strength in depth to catch local rivals Tottenham in the second half of the season and believes the addition of two ‘quality players’ is essential to maintaining their exceptional record when it comes to Champions League qualification.
It was rumoured yesterday that Arsenal were trying to steal the march on Newcastle United’s pursuit of French international Mapou Yanga M’Biwa but any hopes of the Montpellier playing arriving at The Emirates have now been quashed as he has officially put pen-to-paper on a deal at St James Park believed to be worth in the region of £6.7 million.
Hungarian striker Adam Szalai, famous for his Gangnam Style celebration, has dismissed talk of a move to The Emirates. The Mainz striker has been in incredible form this season and was linked with a big money move to Arsenal, Wolfsburg or Borussia Dortmund but he has insisted he expects to stay in Mainz for the foreseeable future.
David Villa has again been linked with a move to Arsenal. The striker has told Barcelona he wants to leave this month as his first-team opportunities at the Nou Camp have diminished during his battles with injury over the past 18 months. It is believed Arsenal could launch a £10 million bid for the striker.
What are your thoughts on everything Arsenal ahead of the game with West Ham tonight?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald