After being eliminated from the Capital One Cup by Chelsea, Arsenal turn their attention back to the Premier League on Saturday for a home clash against Liverpool that has top-of-the-table implications.
Arsene Wenger is still without some notable first-team players, and their status for the next three games has drawn particular interest considering the Gunners also face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League next week before heading to Old Trafford to take on rivals Manchester United.
Mathieu Flamini may struggle to make either of those fixtures after being ruled out for between two and three weeks with a groin injury suffered against Crystal Palace last weekend. There are three players, though, who return to fitness in time to take on United. Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Theo Walcott (abdominal), and Yaya Sanogo (back) are expected to return in the next two weeks.
Podolski, who was injured in the home leg of August’s Champions League playoff against Fenerbahce, posted a picture at Arsenal’s London Colney training complex this week.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment -- back on the pitch,” the German forward tweeted.
Serge Gnabry, who missed the defeat to Chelsea with an ankle problem, is expected to be available against Liverpool, though will almost certainly start from the bench. The teenage attacking midfielder recently signed a new contract and drew praise from experienced playmaker Tomas Rosicky.
“He is a good dribbler and can take on you on in the one-on one-situations,” Rosicky told Arsenal’s official website. “That can be his strong point in the future and for an 18-year-old he is doing very well. I think he has a manager here who will develop him and who has a history of developing young players. Nothing better could happen to him than being offered a new contract here.
“He is a very talented boy; 18 years old and he still has plenty of things to learn and he will find no better place to learn than here. I think it works very well for both sides that he stays here. He's got a great environment for his growth and the potential and talent is there, so let's see how he will develop.”
A return date for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains uncertain after a knee injury suffered in the opening match of the Premier League season. He is expected back sometime next month.
The prognosis for Abou Diaby is far less promising. After a cruciate ligament injury suffered in March, the French midfielder has suffered a setback in his recovery.
"He had a little key hole surgery again, on the knee because his knee blew up every time he did something so it is now six months after the cruciate," Wenger said, according to the Daily Mirror. “He could not even jog yet so with new surgery it is a setback for him so competitive football cannot be played before March."
The Champions League match at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday will be a pivotal for Arsenal after a defeat to last year’s finalists at the Emirates last week. There is now a three-way tie in Group F, with Arsenal, Dortmund, and Napoli each on six points. Napoli next take on zero-point Marseille.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.