Arsenal are facing up to an increasing injury crisis as they prepare for their FA Cup semifinal against Wigan Athletic on Saturday. With the likes of Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny still ruled out and Mathieu Flamini suspended, the Gunners have major doubts over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Kieran Gibbs (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh).
“I cannot give you concrete team news because we have so many uncertainties about Chamberlain, Gibbs, Rosicky,” manager Arsene Wenger explained, according to Arsenal’s official website. “There will be last-minute decisions on those three players. They are all 50/50.”
Arsenal have been plagued by injuries in recent weeks, during which their once such promising season has gone into steep decline. A 3-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday means that they now face a major battle simply to continue their 16-year streak of Champions League qualification. Still, an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley provides a chance for relief, while Arsenal should have some encouraging news on the fitness front in the coming weeks. Ozil, who has been without a month with a hamstring injury, and Koscielny out for close to three weeks with a calf problem, are closing in on a return.
“Ozil and Koscielny are still out,” Wenger said. “I think the earliest to come back for Koscielny could be Tuesday and for Ozil it could be next Saturday. That would be a boost because at the moment we have too many players out and it's important we get them back. We know that at this period of the season, the number of players we had out is too many.”
Aaron Ramsey made his long-awaited return off the bench in the defeat at Everton and Wenger stated that the Welshman will start at Wembley due to Flamini’s suspension and the continued unavailability of Jack Wilshere. The England midfielder’s recovery from a broken foot remains on track, however.
“It's all going well but he has not started to run,” Wenger said of Wilshere. “I think that's planned for next week. At the moment all is going well.”
A forgotten figure is also set to come back into the first-team picture in the near future, with Abou Diaby poised to return to full training next week after more than a year out with a cruciate ligament injury. Wenger believes the France international midfielder could be available for selection in two weeks.
Arsenal’s run to the FA Cup semifinals has been an impressive one, encompassing wins over leading Premier League opposition in Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. An ever-present and reliable presence in that run has been Lukasz Fabianski. And Wenger confirmed that Fabianski’s run of starts in the FA Cup in place of Wojciech Szczesny would continue, for the semifinal at least.
“Fabianski will play in goal,” he stated. “It's not a difficult decision because it's a decision that has been made for a long time.
“Let's play on Saturday,” he added in response to whether Fabianski would also start a possible final. “You play football on your merit and your performance and he has turned up with top-level performances until now in every single game. He has done extremely well. He has been man of the match in the three games he has played.”