Arsenal will again be without Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta for the FA Cup fourth round contest with Coventry City on Friday, while Tomas Rosicky has joined the club’s list of absentees.
Rosicky broke his nose against Aston Villa 10 days ago, but had been included among the substitutes against Fulham last time out, wearing a face mask. Meanwhile, Ramsey, who has been missing since Boxing Day with a thigh problem and Arteta, absent for three weeks with a calf injury, are now at least nearing a return.
“Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey join the squad on Monday, they are not available for Friday's game,” manager Arsene Wenger said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “We lost as well Rosicky, he's not available.”
There is some immediate good news on the injury front, though, with Wenger confirming that Nicklas Bendtner has shaken off an ankle injury and will be included in the squad on Friday after training as normal throughout the week. Indeed, Arsenal’s fitness concerns are beginning to look much brighter, despite a season-ending knee injury suffered by Theo Walcott recently.
“We have just had [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain back, Bendtner back, I hope to have Arteta back next week and Ramsey,” he added. “We also have Yaya Sanogo coming back into the squad next week.”
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The situation could well be enough to convince Wenger that he does not need to enter the transfer market this month. The squad has looked particularly light up front, but with Bendtner, Sanogo and Podolski all potentially soon being available, Wenger now has options should he decide to rest Olivier Giroud. Whether any of that trio could be relied upon to maintain Arsenal’s quest to end a decade-long wait for a Premier League title should Giroud being absent for the long-term maybe a different matter, however.
Arsenal’s squad are certainly be expected to be strong enough to make it through to the last 16 of the FA Cup. The Gunners, who beat north-London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the third round, sit a point clear at the top of the Premier League, while their opponents Coventry, are mid-table in League One, England’s third tier.
Still, having been hampered by financial issues which led to them starting the season with a 10-point deduction, the Midlands club have been on a good run of form. And Wenger will be determined to avoid a repeat of last season when Arsenal exited the FA Cup to another lower-level side, Blackburn Rovers.