Arsenal: North London derby injury boosts; Ramsey wants central role; Corbyn talking football
Attentions have now turned to Sunday’s north London derby following Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Ludogorets in the Champions League, and there is good news for Arsene Wenger on the injury front. The Daily Telegraph reported last night that the Gunners could be handed a quadruple fitness boost with Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin all in contention to return. All four players stayed at home this week while the rest of the team travelled to Bulgaria. Spurs lost 1-0 against Bayer Leverkusen last night and have one day less to recover, with Moussa Dembele, Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld all struggling to make it. The Telegraph’s report reads:
“The only team to go through a Premier League season without defeat were Arsenal themselves in 2003-4 and, even if only 10 games have been played, victory on Sunday would end any slight chance of that feat being replicated. Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal all stayed in London this week amid minor injuries and Arsenal’s Champions League tie in Sofia against Ludogorets but are all hopeful of being available to start on Sunday.”
Wenger certainly has some difficult decisions to make, and whoever he chooses in his first XI Arsenal will have a very strong substitutes bench. This could be a crucial factor in the game because Spurs have a tendency to tire in the closing stages of matches. If fit, Bellerin and Walcott will surely be reinstated. The two have formed a very effective partnership on the right flank, and Wenger will want as much speed in his team as possible against a dynamic Spurs outfit. Kieran Gibbs look set to stay in the side for this reason, but was beaten all too easily for Ludogorets’ second goal on Tuesday night.
Elsewhere, Aaron Ramsey has made it clear that he is ready to start against Tottenham and wants to ply in central midfield. The Welshman made his second start of the season on Tuesday, and got through 70 minutes on a cold evening without muscular problems. He played on the right flank when Arsenal were out of possession but was given the licence to come inside and knit play together in the middle of the park. However, Wenger has described him as a box-to-box midfielder and Ramsey will be anxious to show he can be trusted in this role. The former Cardiff City man said:
“I prefer to play in the middle of the park, I’ve said that many times.
“Playing against Ludogorets will put me in good shape going into the weekend, and hopefully I can stay fit now. It was great to be back out there starting again, and to get 70-odd minutes. I’m ready now.”
Finally, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was overheard talking football to House of Commons speaker John Bercow after Prime Minister’s Question yesterday. A Commons microphone picked up the leader of opposition saying, ‘now we’ve just got to beat Spurs on Saturday’, before realising his error and correcting himself to Sunday. Given that Wenger has talked proudly of the ‘socialist wage structure’ at Arsenal in the past, he and Mr Corbyn would presumably get on famously.
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