Ahead of Wednesday's trip to Loftus Road, and as they try to maintain third place on the Premier League table, Arsenal welcome back midfielder Aaron Ramsey to the lineup against Queens Park Rangers.
The 24-year-old Welshman has missed nine matches this term due to three different ankle knocks, making his last appearance as a substitute during Feb. 10’s 2-1 victory over Leicester. Ramsey would play in nine minutes of that match, entering in the 72nd only to leave in the 81st.
The reason behind Ramsey’s injury woes have baffled supporters and Arsenal throughout the season, but manager Arsene Wenger told reporters the club have figured out the troubling situation.
“When you have a repetition of muscular injuries, you can put a little bit of a handbrake on your body, and to get rid of that is a (psychological) problem,” Wenger said.
“I don’t think he suffers from that, looking at him in training. Certainly, you lose a bit of confidence in your body.”
Barring any of those psychological issues, Ramsey could add another dimension to the Gunners attack. He’s netted three goals and assisted two more this campaign, after tallying 10 goals and eight assists in last season. During stretches of the 2013-2014 season, Ramsey emerged as one of Arsenal's more reliable attacking options.
Ramsey’s return comes at an important time for the hampered midfield, as the club looks to maintain their Premier League form with a recent victory over Everton, and with the heavy obstacle of overcoming a 3-1 deficit against AS Monaco ahead of their Champions League second-leg match in a fortnight.
While Ramsey will be back in action, the same cannot be said of Jack Wilshere. The 23-year-old will miss the match against QPR, and won't be available for an FA Cup match with Manchester United on Monday.
"He is doing well, but it takes some time to heal the wound after the surgery. It will take him a few days." Wenger said of Wilshere. Wenger would not set a date for Wilshere's return.
Wenger also revealed that defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin, despite the broken nose he suffered after colliding with Olivier Giroud during Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Everton, will also play against QPR. Coquelin is expected to wear a mask for the match.
"We have to check Francis Coquelin with the medical people this morning in training to see whether he’ll be available or not, but there’s no obvious reason why he should not be available,” Wenger said.
Defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini is expected to miss the next two games, according to Wenger. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) remain sidelined and not expected to return until at least April. Midfielder Abou Diaby, whose lone appearance came in a Capital One match on Sept. 23, remains out with a calf injury.
Considering how deep Arsenal have gone in the FA Cup and their position on the league table, the injuries are a concern, but so is fatigue. Center back Per Mertesacker has been used in 34 games across all competitions, and could be due for more of a rest after the addition of Gabriel in late January. Mertesacker was benched against Everton in favor of Gabriel.
"We bought [Gabriel] for that," Wenger replied when asked by a reporter if the Brazilian can hold down a place in the starting lineup.