Arsenal have been handed a major boost ahead of their crucial clash against Manchester City on Sunday (8 May) after Santi Cazorla came through unscathed in his first appearance for the club in five months. The Spanish midfielder was sidelined with knee and Achilles injuries, but returned to training over a week ago before making his first appearance for the Gunners reserves side during their 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the U21 Premier League division 2 playoff clash on Tuesday (3 May).
The Arsenal second string booked a place in the final as they seek promotion to division 1, but the main focus was on the Spain international, who played for 60 minutes, which could see him being involved against the Etihad Stadium outfit. The north London club are battling City for a place in the top four, and a win will confirm a 19th consecutive season in the Champions League for Arsene Wenger's team.
Cazorla's absence has left a massive void in the team, and Nacho Monreal believes that his injury was one of the main reasons for Arsenal's failure to mount a strong title challenge in the latter part of the season, despite being one of the favourites during Christmas.
Apart from the Spaniard, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and Calum Chambers featured for the reserves as Wenger kept his world of giving first-team stars game time to keep fit before the end of the season. The Czech Republic international played his first 90 minutes of the season, as he continues to build fitness ahead of a possible summer departure, while the latter two were given game time due to lack of opportunities with the first-team.
The U21 Premier League division two play-off final will see Arsenal U21 take on their Aston Villa counterparts with the winner being promoted to the elite group. The time and date are yet to be fixed, but the venue will be the Emirates Stadium owing to the Gunners' higher league finish.