Arsène Wenger is hopeful that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit for Arsenal’s trip to take on Liverpool on Sunday. The England international was forced into a central-midfield role against Newcastle United last week, following injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, but then had to go off late on after suffering a groin problem.
“We hope that Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit,” Wenger said on Thursday, reports Arsenal’s official website. “We’ll see on Saturday after a test. He’s not in training at the moment.”
Arsenal beat Newcastle 4-1, despite having to deploy a patchwork defense. With Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal out injured and Calum Chambers suspended, Mathieu Debuchy was thrust into service as a center-back and teenager Hector Bellerin operated at right-back. While Chambers will return from suspension, Monreal only has “a slight chance,” according to Wenger, of returning from his ankle injury, while Koscielny remains out with Achilles and calf problems.
As they chase a sixth victory in their last seven matches, Arsenal could be boosted by the return of Theo Walcott. The winger returned from 10 months out with a ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament to make a couple of substitute appearances at the start of November, but has since been sidelined after developing a groin injury while on international duty. Wenger revealed that there was “a very slight chance” of Walcott being included in the squad at Anfield.
“He is back in training today,” he said. “But only today. I might take him, I don’t know yet until he’s back to full training. Let’s see.”
Elsewhere, Wenger confirmed that goalkeeper David Ospina was now back in full training and that Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky should return next week. On Arsenal’s other current treatment-room residents -- Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta, Koscielny and Mesut Özil -- Wenger explained that they were all “progressing as planned.”
Arteta continues to be hampered by a recurring calf complaint, while Ramsey could miss the festive program with a hamstring injury suffered against Galatasaray last week and Wilshere is set to be absent until February with his latest ankle problem. Özil, though, is nearing a return after suffering a knee injury against Chelsea at the beginning of October. Scheduled to be out for three months, Arsenal’s record signing is eagerly awaiting getting back to training and on the pitch.
“After a time, you really miss playing football,” he told Arsenal’s website. “You miss the ball and just want to play. When you watch the games and think that you could have been playing, and playing well, it makes you miss it. But that’s the way things are.
“I’m working every day to get myself fit and I’m on the right path now. It won’t be much too much longer before I’m back on the pitch. I hope to be back training with the whole team again as soon as possible.”
Arsenal go into Sunday’s match in sixth position in the Premier League table, five points and five places ahead of last season’s runners-up Liverpool.