Arsenal take on Southampton in their FA Cup fourth round tie at St Mary’s on Saturday evening.
Prior to the game, Arsène Wenger has spoken to the media at this pre-match press conference today and given Arsenal.com a team news and injury update.
The Gunners boss was able to provide some excellent news as he announced he can welcome Theo Walcott back into the squad having missed the last six matches in all competitions with a calf injury.
Walcott picked up the injury in mid-December, and although Wenger had initially expected the forward to be out for only a few days, it proved to be a more serious injury to overcome.
The 27-year-old returned to full training last week and although he did not feature versus Burnley last weekend he is ready to make the trip to face his former club, Southampton, this weekend.
Arsène Wenger is expected to make a number of changes to his starting lineup as Arsenal host Watford in the Premier League three days later, meaning Walcott could go starting into the starting lineup to face the Saints.
Mertesacker has been out for the entire season to date with a knee injury picked up in July. The 2014 World Cup winner did return to training in December but then picked up a calf injury in training.
The former-German international is now back on the comeback trail once again and will be hoping to be fully match fit to make his first appearance of the season in February.
Mathieu Debuchy has been out with a hamstring injury for nearly two months picked up versus Bournemouth – his only Premier League start so far this season.
The final update from Arsène Wenger today was regarding Santi Cazorla, confirming the Spaniard is still not back in full training as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.
Cazorla is injured, Granit Xhaka suspended and Mohamed Elneny is with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations so Wenger is limited with his options in the centre of midfield this weekend. Aaron Ramsey could partner Francis Coquelin in front of the back four.
Arsène Wenger told Arsenal.com:
On team news:
“We have Theo Walcott back in the squad and of course we lose Granit Xhaka because he will be suspended. Mohamed Elneny is at the Africa Cup of Nations and that’s it. The good news is that Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy are back in full training from Friday, so the squad is quite big, but we are a bit short in midfield at the moment.”
On Santi being the only player not in full training:
“Not Santi, no.”
Arsenal’s squad is looking in better shape these days as they head into the business end of the season. Santi Cazorla is their only significant injury concern currently whilst Xhaka starts the first of his three-match ban this weekend.