If Alex Ferguson was still managing Man United he would be telling everyone it is “squeaky bum time” but Arsene Wenger has been in enough of these crucial end-of-season fixtures to know exactly how to prepare his players.
Arsenal’s injury list has eased considerably since the start of the season, but we still have a few players that are not available this weekend, and it looks odds-on that Wenger will not be picking the same starting XI that have taken the field in the last five games.
In the pre-match press conference, Wenger gave his injury update. “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta are not ready. Danny Welbeck has a little possibility to be fit.
“Aaron Ramsey is not in training yet but he should be better tomorrow. I don’t think we have any big injuries, maybe Welbeck will be available but at the moment he looks short.
“I don’t know how long the others will be out for, it’s difficult to say, but hopefully they will play again this season.”
Wenger started Ramsey last week but surely he won’t risk a half-fit player two weeks in a row and against such a dangerous opponent. Wenger also took off Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin last weekend as both seemed listless and unable to influence the game, perhaps he will start them on the bench this time and use their replacements Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere from the whistle.
It seems that Martin Debuchy is now fit enough but without playing time under his belt, Wenger will probably stick with Hector Bellerin. Abou Diaby was declared fit enough to train a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t even make the bench against Swansea and is extremely unlikely to be called up for this one either.