Aaron Ramsey could start his first Arsenal match in 11 months tonight in the FA Cup at Elland Road. Ramsey has only played for Nottingham Forest on loan since breaking his leg at Stoke City last season, but he is back at Arsenal and in line to face Leeds.
"We have of course Ramsey available again," Arsène Wenger, the club's manager, told Arsenal TV Online, of his 20-year-old midfielder. Ramsey suffered a broken leg in a challenge with Stoke's Ryan Shawcross at the Britannia Stadium on 27 February last season. After nine months of recovery, he returned to competitive football with a substitute appearance for Nottingham Forest at Leicester City on 29 November. After that he made two more substitute appearances and two starts for Forest in the Championship, completing all 90 minutes at Ipswich Town on 3 January.
He then returned to Arsenal and was an unused substitute for the initial FA Cup third-round tie with Leeds United, which was drawn 1-1. He was on the bench again for the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Portman Road but did not come on, as Arsenal lost the tie 1-0.
Ramsey could be one of a number of players brought into the side who did not start in Arsenal's 3-0 win at West Ham United on Saturday. Wenger said that there will be "a few changes" owing to the busy January schedule. Abou Diaby, who is "not far away", will not return but should be back after the second leg with Ipswich next week. Lukasz Fabianski is still injured so Wojciech Szczesny will continue in goal.
Sébastien Squillaci is also injured, but "could be available in two weeks", according to Wenger. That news, as well as the continued absence of Thomas Vermaelen, may force Wenger into recruiting a new centre-back. He is considering a move for Matthew Upson, with Christopher Samba and Richard Dunne alternative options. Wenger, however, said that he is still undecided. He said that the search "is still nowhere". When asked whether he would make a long or short-term signing, he said: "I cannot tell you that at the moment because it has to click in my head and nothing happened yet."
Robin van Persie has insisted that Arsenal must improve against Leeds, but that if they do they have a chance of progressing in the competition they last won in 2005. "Those two cup games [against Leeds and Ipswich] were not good enough," Van Persie said, "but against West Ham, everyone played really well and was fighting for each other. This game is vital because we have a big chance. If we win against Leeds, then after that it will be a game against a lower league side again. I have looked at the draw, there are a lot of other Premier League teams playing each other, so lots of teams will go out, which means we have big chances to go further. We have the squad to go further because 90 per cent of the squad are fit now and we can rotate."