Mesut Ozil could provide Arsenal with a boost by making his return from a hamstring injury in Sunday’s Premier League clash with Hull City. Ozil has been sidelined since picking up the problem in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League Round-of-16 defeat to Bayern Munich last month.
After a fine start to his career at the Emirates Stadium, the club’s record signing had struggled to make an impact in the weeks leading up to his injury and was increasingly a target for criticism. But, having looked jaded during his first season in the physically demanding Premier League, Wenger will now be hoping that Ozil comes back refreshed in order to aid Arsenal’s push for the final Champions League place.
Sunday’s match is also a preview for next month’s FA Cup final against the same opponents. Wenger is optimistic that Ozil, as well as Nacho Monreal could be involved at the KC Stadium, although Kieran Gibbs may again miss out with a hamstring problem suffered in last weekend’s FA Cup semifinal win over Wigan Athletic.
“I think Gibbs will be out for the weekend,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “But Monreal is possibly available and Ozil could be available to travel as well. I will see about that on Friday and Saturday.
“It's good to have [Ozil] back because we had so many offensive players out. He gives you always opportunities to score and I have to test him physically tomorrow and Saturday to see if he can travel.”
Arsenal will be further bolstered on Sunday by the return of Mathieu Flamini after his two-match suspension. Having been without so many key players for so long, Wenger will now doubtless be relishing having some selection dilemmas on his hands once again. Kim Kallstrom made his first start for the club and, after a slow beginning, generally impressed in the 3-1 victory over West Ham on Monday night. Aaron Ramsey will also be keen to continue his encouraging return from a three-month layoff. Ramsey, like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, started on the bench on Monday following their exertions in Arsenal’s penalty shootout win at Wembley three days earlier. Both will be hopeful of being named in the starting lineup against Hull.
Arsenal’s injury list in the coming days will be reduced to just three. Theo Walcott is ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury, but Jack Wilshere should be back before the end of the campaign. In his last update, Wenger predicted that the midfielder should return to jogging this week, although still faces around three weeks to get up to speed following the fracturing of a bone in his left foot.
The situation of Abou Diaby, who has been ravaged by injuries in recent seasons and has been out for 13 months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament injury, is even more complex. While now back in training, Wenger admitted after the West Ham match that he is undecided about whether the French midfielder was up to returning for the first team this season.
“Abou is back in full training on Thursday,” Wenger explained. “It's very difficult to say [if he will play this season] because he has not played for over a year now, and it's very difficult for me [to decide]. He looks physically fine, but he has to play one or two games before I consider bringing him back."