Arsenal welcome West Ham United to the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, and manager Arsene Wenger revealed in Thursday’s press conference that the Gunners could be without two midfielders.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who joined from Manchester United in January, has missed Arsenal’s last two league games and has been ruled out against the Hammers. The 29-year-old is suffering from a knee injury but could be on the recovery trail as he’s running again.
He may be back in time to face Atletico Madrid in the first leg of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final clash on Thursday.
Wenger said: “Of course, Mkhitaryan is not back yet. He is running again. He has to progress in the next three or four days to see how much intensity he can have in his training sessions. Possibly Thursday is the earliest (he could return) I think.”
Jack Wilshere is the second player who could miss out against West Ham this weekend, with the English international still struggling with an ankle injury. Wilshere missed Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Newcastle and may not be back in time for the visit of David Moyes’ side.
He may return for Thursday’s game, but Wenger admitted his situation is ‘uncertain’. The Arsenal boss added: “We have some uncertainties about Wilshere. It’s a short-term one, a little ankle problem.”
Wenger said the Gunners will have David Ospina back for the clash with United. The 29-year-old goalkeeper was on the bench against Newcastle but had a niggling injury that kept him out of both legs in the Europa League quarter-final.
Aaron Ramsey should return to make this weekend’s squad, although he’s likely to be named on the bench. The 27-year-old midfielder has missed five of Arsenal’s last seven league games through injury and could be given a cameo appearance on Sunday to boost his match fitness ahead of Thursday’s clash.
“Ospina is available again. (Ramsey) has not participated in full training but he’s practising in non-contact, so he will be available for Sunday,” Wenger said.
With an eye on the Europa League semi-final, a number of first-team players could be rested over the weekend. Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League after 33 games, two points clear of seventh-placed Burnley but six points adrift of fifth-placed Chelsea.
Their three-game winning run was ended on Sunday after a 2-1 loss to Newcastle, but they still need a strong finish to the season to ensure Burnley don’t overtake them in their five remaining games.
The Arsenal manager also gave an update on Santi Cazorla who’s been injured since October 2016. The Spanish playmaker has undergone 10 operations to fix an achilles injury, suffering gangrene and infection that almost led to his foot being amputated.
“It is a while, I have not seen him since the League Cup final because he went back to make his rehab. We miss him a lot. I never spoke about it in the press conferences, or not many times, as he was not the subject of the debate, but we have missed him a lot in our game.
“He is an exceptional football player and it is very sad what happened to him, and very sad for Arsenal as well. Honestly, I don’t know (if he’ll play at the top level again). I hope yes, but I don’t know.”