Arsenal: Jack Wilshere set to return for Liverpool trip while Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be fit to travel
The Premier League fixture at Anfield begins a testing two-month schedule for the Gunners in which they will face all of their main rivals as well as Bayern Munich
Arsenal look set to be handed a boost head of their gruelling run of fixtures by the return of Jack Wilshere from injury, while they are also confident both Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit despite picking up knocks in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Arsene Wenger had already made his permitted three substitutions when both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arteta pulled up with what looked to be muscular injuries, although they were later described as “knocks” and nothing more.
20-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain has only recently returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for five months, but made his first start since the opening day of the season last Sunday to net both goals in the win over the Eagles.
Wilshere was unavailable for the victory at the Emirates due to an ankle injury he picked up in the FA Cup fourth round win over Coventry last month, but he is expected to return for the crucial match against Liverpool on Saturday that kicks off their testing string of matches.
The Gunners will face the Reds at Anfield before four home games in a row against Manchester United, Liverpool again (in the FA Cup fifth round) Bayern Munich in the Champions League and resurgent Sunderland.
With Aaron Ramsey expected to be out for at least five weeks after aggravating a thigh injury, and Mathieu Flamini currently suspended after picking up a three-match ban for a rash challenge in the 2-2 draw with Southampton, Wenger moved in the transfer window to bring in midfield cover in the form of experienced Swede Kim Kallstrom.
However, it quickly emerged that the 31-year-old has signed for the club with a “micro-fracture” in one of his vertebrae that could see him sidelined for up to six weeks, and Wenger admitted that he did know about the injury when he signed the midfielder on a loan until the end of the season from Spartak Moscow.
Should he take six weeks to recover, Kallstrom will miss the above fixtures as well as the March run of games against Stoke, Swansea, the second-leg against Bayern and the north London derby with Tottenham, while his participation in the clash with Chelsea six days later would also be in jeopardy given his lack of playing time.
Thomas Vermaelen’s return has been slightly delayed after the defender picked up a new calf injury to add to his existing knee problem, although he has not been ruled out of this weekend’s trip to Merseyside. The Belgian is also the subject of a big money move to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, although it is not known whether the club captain would be willing to leave with the Gunners currently top of the Premier League.
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