Arsenal will have only Hector Bellerin back available as they aim to stay at the top of the Premier League against West Brom on Saturday. Arsene Wenger’s side suffered a mounting injury crisis ahead of the international break, but the two-week layoff has been sufficient only for right-back Bellerin to return to full fitness. Despite hopes that they might be available, the match at the Hawthorns will come too soon for Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky remain longer-term casualties.
“Hector Bellerin is available again” Wenger said in his pre-match press conference. “I believe that Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain should not be available. Walcott is one or two weeks away. Rosicky, Welbeck and Wilshere, of course, for later.”
With Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain set to return to full training next week, they could have an outside chance of making the squad for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League encounter at home to Dinamo Zagreb. Arsenal will go into that contest needing a victory to have any hope of keeping alive their chances of reaching the knockout stage of the competition.
The situation is much rosier for Arsenal in the Premier League. The team will begin Saturday’s encounter with 13th-placed West Brom level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table.
With every point crucial as Arsenal seek a first championship in 12 years, Wenger is keen to ensure every player is fully focused for the clash with Tony Pulis’ side. And Wenger revealed that he is not yet sure whether Laurent Koscielny would be in the right frame of mind to take the field. The center-back, along with Olivier Giroud, was playing for France against Germany in Paris last Friday night when the terrorist attacks began in the French capital. On Tuesday he was then involved in an emotional encounter against England at Wembley.
“He had a fantastic game against Germany and you could see on Tuesday night he was not himself,” Wenger said. “It affected him I think deeply, and I didn’t recognize the player I saw on Friday night on Tuesday night.
“It’s a big game for us. I have not talked to him yet, but I will talk to him to see if he’s completely recovered and focused. You have to trust the players in these types of situations, because today in the Premier League you don’t get away with it with 80 percent focus. You have to be completely committed. What I will want from him is that he’s completely committed and feels ready. If not I will not play him.”