Arsène Wenger will be without one of his key players for Arsenal's trip to take on north London rivals Tottenham on Saturday, with Alexis Sánchez not yet ready to return from a hamstring injury. The summer signing from Barcelona leads Arsenal’s goal-scoring charts this season, with 17, but has been absent since his side’s FA Cup fourth round win over Brighton and Hove Albion two weeks ago. While he could feature in next Tuesday’s clash with Leicester City, the crucial encounter at White Hart Lane comes too soon.
“The latest is that Alexis is not ready,” Wenger said, reports Arsenal’s official website. “He is not far away, the Leicester game is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet! He is training but it's light training.”
Arsenal coped impressively in Sánchez’s absence last weekend, beating Aston Villa 5-0 to record a fifth successive victory in all competitions. Showing Arsenal’s improved strength of depth in attacking areas, the win was also achieved without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. And while the England midfielder, as well as Sánchez, will again be missing against Tottenham, Arsenal will welcome back fellow-forward Danny Welbeck. The former Manchester United man has finally shaken off a thigh injury that has kept him out since scoring his seventh goal for the club against West Ham on Dec. 28.
There is good news, too, regarding the process of Jack Wilshere. The midfielder suffered the latest in a frustratingly long line of ankle injuries against Manchester United at the end of November and was ruled out for three months after undergoing surgery. Wenger denied tabloid stories that quickly emerged suggesting Wilshere’s prognosis could be far more pessimistic, and he has now revealed that the 23-year-old could well be back in full training from Sunday. While caution will doubtless be taken over his progress, his return to first-team action would be expected to come before the end of the month and ahead of the first leg of Arsenal’s Champions League last-16 tie against Monaco on Feb. 25.
Arsenal will also soon have two more players back in the first-team picture. Serge Gnabry has missed 11 months with a knee injury but will feature in Arsenal’s Under-21 side’s match with their Newcastle counterparts on Monday. The encounter is also set to see and appearance by one of Arsenal’s two signings in the January transfer window, Krystian Bielik. The 17-year-old midfielder joined Arsenal from Legia Warsaw two weeks ago, but has needed time to build up fitness having not played for more than a month because of the winter break in Poland.
Arsenal go into Saturday’s match in fifth place in the Premier League, one place and two points above opponents Tottenham.