Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky is back in contention for this weekend’s visit of Everton following a groin problem – that’s if the fixture is given the go-ahead.
Icy conditions have ravaged the United Kingdom from top-to-toe over the past week, and saw the Gunners’ game against Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday night postponed due to safety concerns in north London. Arsene Wenger will be keen to avoid another non-starter this weekend as his side seek to sustain their recent impressive form and maintain a serious title challenge.
Rosicky, 28, has been a regular on the Arsenal treatment table since his initial return from an 18-month lay-off due to a persistent hamstring injury, but Wenger believes the situation to be natural for any player returning from such a lengthy absence.
“Our squad is exactly the same as it was before the Bolton game, apart from Tomas Rosicky,” said the Frenchman.
“We have a good hope that we will get him back in the squad. But he is the only one that should come back.
“He missed out at West Ham because of a groin injury.
“He has little problems but when you go back to the scan it always comes back reassuring. I believe that is down to the fact that he has not played for such a long time and that his body has to readapt again. But now he is back and completely fit.”
On the flip side of the coin, Cesc Fabregas again misses out after aggravating his hamstring during his outstanding cameo appearance against Aston Villa. However, Wenger expects his midfield orchestrator to return for the trip to Bolton a week Sunday.
Alex Song and Emmanuel Eboue are on international duty with their respective national teams as they contest the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
The Toffees arrive in London looking to avoid a repeat of the humiliating 6-1 demolition served up by the Gunners at Goodison Park on the opening day of the season, but with the home side averaging 3 goals every game at the Emirates, David Moyes’ side will have to show a marked improvement to stand a chance of returning to Merseyside with anything to show for their travels.
Loan signing Landon Donovan’s first test in an Everton shirt will be to breach the formiddable Gallas-Vermaelen partnership at the heart of the Arsenal defence – the USA’s all-time leading goalscorer has joined on a three month loan spell from the LA Galaxy as Moyes looks to bolster his sides charge up the table following a disappointing so far this term.
The arrival of Donovan is a timely boost for Everton’s strike force; a hamstring injury has rendered Louis Saha doubtful, whilst Jo is suspended by the club for returning to South America without permission over the festive period. Yakubu is on international duty with Nigeria.
LIKELY XI: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore, Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson, Eduardo, Arshavin, Nasri
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