Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that midfielders Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are back in training and in contention for Sunday’s game against Stoke City after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Germany international Ozil has been out since early October with a knee ligament injury, while Ramsey has not featured since the start of December, leaving Wenger short on goals and creativity in midfield.
“Aaron Ramsey, Ozil and Mathieu Flamini are back in training. (Danny) Welbeck is not available, (Olivier) Giroud is back from suspension,” Wenger told reporters.
“Ozil will train with the squad today, he’s been sick, he will be available. Will I start him? I don’t know.”
Another player whose place in the starting lineup is perhaps not guaranteed is goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who was fined by the club after being caught smoking in the changing room following their defeat to Southampton on Jan. 1.
The Pole has apologised, Wenger said, but it seems his manager will still leave him sweating on his place in the side.
“I’ve not selected the first 11 yet,” Wenger added.
“I don’t want to talk about what happens in our dressing room because what happens stays in the dressing room.
Apart from the fact it doesn’t stay in the dressing room,” the manager joked.
“He’s a serious boy who works very hard. He’s not the first to make a mistake and not the last.”
Arsenal’s season is yet to truly ignite and they sit sixth in the table ahead of the visit from traditional bogey team Stoke, who inflicted an embarrassing reverse on Wenger’s side at the start of December.
Then Arsenal shipped three goals in the first half, rendering their second-half fightback academic in a 3-2 defeat.
Stoke’s traditionally combative approach has frequently exposed Arsenal’s famed soft underbelly and with Mark Hughes’s side comfortably placed in mid-table, Wenger is expecting another testing afternoon.
“Stoke are always especially motivated against Arsenal,” he said.