With the international break done and dusted, our attention returns once more to the Premier League and, in particular, the early team news as Arsenal prepare to welcome Watford to the Emirates.
Mercifully, it seems as if all of our international players emerged unscathed from this latest round of fixtures, with no fresh injury concerns to consider over and above those that were already in place for Everton.
Saturday’s match is – as with every game between now and the end of the season – a must win, so we need every available player fit and firing. We will look a little more in depth at Watford, and how we can get past them, in tomorrow’s blog.
For now, we can bask in the good news that midfielder Jack Wilshere is finally back in training – putting his notoriously fragile ankles to the test against the hustle and bustle of full-throttle training sessions.
Of Jack, Arsene Wenger said: “It is his first week back in full training and we’ll see how he responds to that, but the first signs are quite good. We’ll assess our options next week.”
Arsene said it had not yet been decided whether Jack would turn out for the under 21 side, in a bid to build his fitness ahead of a possible return to action before the season is done.
I doubt we will see Jack in competitive action again this season, which is probably for the best. I spoke at length about his return here, so I won’t recover too much old ground, suffice to say it is too big a risk to rush him back with about a month left of the season.
There was news also, on the fitness of Peter Cech, with the boss saying: “Cech is going back to normal training. It’s too early to say if he will be available for the weekend. He might be a bit short to be competitive.”
How much training work a goalkeeper needs to be competitive again I can only guess, but I don’t think, having spend just a few weeks out with a muscular injury, he is going to need a tremendous amount.
My guess is that he will return to the starting lineup again, despite a pretty decent showing from David Opsina in his absence.
Both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are set to miss out this weekend, but will, the manager said, be available for next weekend, so fingers crossed.
Finally, there was an update on Santi Cazorla’s return to fitness, with the news that the Spaniard had resumed running again, but Arsene did stress that he would need another month’s training before he could be considered. That more or less rules him out for the remainder of this season.
A great shame, especially considering his good form prior to injury, but we should have enough quality in his stead to really make a go of these remaining fixtures. The first day of the rest of our season begins on Saturday.