Of course we all know that Arsene Wenger will be making wholesale changes for the visit of Red Star Belgrade on Thursday, especially as Arsenal will need a fully rested First XI for the big match against City next weekend. For starters we all know for sure that Santi Cazorla will not be playing, in fact it is now a full year since he last took to the pitch in a Champions League game against Ludgorets. Arsene Wenger is not expecting him back this year. He said: “It won’t be before Christmas. The first signs are positive, but still he has not played for one and a half years. He is not in full training yet, he needs a few games with the reserve team, so I think if all goes well, it will be after Christmas.” If all goes well…. Hmmm unlikely I think.
One player that is expected to return, and even play on Thursday, is the Colombian keeper David Ospina. Wenger said last week: “Ospina has a chance to be available against Belgrade. He will not be available for Saturday.”
Another long-term injury victim could be back as well, as Calum Chambers could be set for a return. Wenger said last weekend: “Calum Chambers is back in full training on Monday.” I am not sure that he will play a full game though as Wenger will want to reintroduce him slowly…
There were rumours that Shkrodan Mustafi could have been back this week, but Wenger has made it clear that he won’t be returning for a few weeks yet, while Danny Welbeck will probably return about the same time. Le Prof said: “Welbeck is out. He has a groin problem, I think it will be two to three weeks before he is back. He will not be back before the international break.”
This game on Thursday is a good one to bring back injured players as we are already clear at the top of the Group and have practically qualified already. But it is certain that Wenger will want to keep our record-breaking Emirates run going as long as possible, but our reserves should have no problem doing that….