Arsenal have been handed a boost ahead of their Premier League season opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Laurent Koscielny set to return from injury. The France international was forced off at half time in Arsenal’s 3-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City on Sunday after suffering an Achilles problem, but is now back in training. “Koscielny had a knock on his Achilles but he should be available for Saturday," manager Arsene Wenger said, according to the club’s official website.
Koscielny’s absence would leave Wenger with a major headache. Thomas Vermaelen’s departure to Barcelona last week has left just Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and 19-year-old Calum Chambers as established options. Mertesacker, like Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski, will not feature at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday having only just returned to training after his layoff following Germany’s World Cup triumph.
Arsenal’s options will also continue to be limited by the absence of Theo Walcott, Ryo Miyaichi and Serge Gnabry. Walcott is nearing a return after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in January, while Japanese 21-year-old Miyaichi has been out since suffering a serious hamstring injury last season. Gnabry’s return remains uncertain, although it is believed that Wenger intends to loan out the 19-year-old attacking midfielder this campaign.
“They are not available,” Wenger said, when asked about Walcott and Miyaichi. “Ryo is very close after injury and Theo is, as I always said, end of August or start of September. That is back into training of course. [Gnabry] is not ready as well. I am not sure about the timeframe at the moment.”
No Arsenal player has suffered more severe injury problems than Abou Diaby in recent seasons, and his hopes for a competitive return recently suffered another setback. Having appeared in two preseason games as he looks to regain fitness following a serious knee injury in March 2013, he expressed his hope that his nightmare was behind him.
“I’m really, really confident. I’m really optimistic as well,” he said after Arsenal’s friendly in New Jersey against the New York Red Bulls last month. “I’ve worked really hard for one year and even during the summer so now I’m sure that it’s going to be a good season.”
But Diaby was then forced to take a step back in his return, having picked up a hip problem. Fortunately the complaint is not serious and could soon be back in the first-team picture. “He's back in full training -- that's good news,” Wenger said. “He needs to play a few games but this week he looked good in training.”
Arsenal fans will also have to wait a few more weeks before getting a first look at one of their summer arrivals, David Ospina. Signed from Ligue 1 side Nice for a little more than £3 million, the Colombia No.1 is expected to provide competition for Wojciech Szczesny at the Emirates. But he will have to make up for last time if he is to usurp the Pole, as he continues to recover from an injury suffered in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. “Ospina is two or three weeks away,” Wenger explained. “He has a thigh strain from the Brazil vs Colombia game.”