Arsenal have avoided any new injury worries and could have Tomas Rosicky back available as they attempt to bounce back from their Champions League exit when taking on Newcastle United on Saturday. Despite a 2-0 victory in Monaco on Tuesday, Arsenal were dumped out of the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage for the fifth consecutive season.
But Arsène Wenger’s side have been going well of late in the Premier League and, now just two points behind Manchester City, they have their sights on not just securing a place in the Champions League for next season but pushing for second place.
For the trip to St James’ Park, Wenger reported that “Rosicky might be available to be in the squad.” The Czech midfielder was an important part of Arsenal’s upturn in form at the start of the year, but has made just one start in the past month and has been missing with illness since playing in the 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers two weeks ago.
A trio of his fellow midfielders remain several weeks away from a return, however. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to be out until April with a hamstring injury, and there is a similar prognosis for Jack Wilshere and captain Mikel Arteta. Wenger stated that the duo were still “two to three weeks” away from a return and would have to wait at least until after the international break at the end of this month.
That will mean Wilshere missing more than four months since injuring his ankle in November. While he returned to training last month, the England international has since undergone what was described at the time as a “minor” procedure. Arteta underwent ankle surgery in January to help relieve a long-standing calf problem.
Wenger also hopes to have Mathieu Debuchy back after the international break. The right-back, who joined Arsenal after 43 appearances with Newcastle in 2013-2014, has endured a debut season at the Emirates Stadium blighted by injury problems. After recuperating from an ankle surgery early in the campaign, Debuchy was sidelined with a dislocated shoulder that again put him out of action for three months in January.
Wenger’s main concern going into the match at Newcastle, though, is likely the physical condition of those players who battled ultimately in vain against Monaco at the Stade Louis II. The game was already Arsenal’s fifth of this month, having also secured their place in the semifinals of the FA Cup. Alexis Sanchez is one player who has looked particularly jaded of late, perhaps unsurprisingly given that he has already made 41 appearances in his first season in England. Following a victory over West Ham last weekend, Wenger admits that some fatigue in his squad was evident as Arsenal pushed for further goals against Monaco.
“I believe that West Ham was a very physical game, and some of our players in the second half of the Monaco game offensively paid a little bit for it,” he said. “It’s a concern. We have to see how everybody recovers.”