Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin remains on course to play for the first time since November after continuing to train with the first team ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round visit of championship side Burnley. The Frenchman returned to full training before their Premier League game against Chelsea, but following his first full week back in the first team he is closing in on his first appearance for more than two months.
Coquelin underwent knee surgery after picking up a knee problem in their defeat from West Bromwich Albion on 21 November, and was expected to miss 12 weeks of the campaign. However, the 24 year old is due to return ahead of schedule and could be reintegrated into the team this weekend. His return could come alongside new signing Mohamed Elneny, who is yet to make his debut since switching from FC Basel.
Manager Arsene Wenger is expected to ring the changes to his Arsenal team for the cup clash, with Southampton travelling to The Emirates Stadium on Tuesday [2 February 2016] in another vital game in the race for the title. Alexis Sanchez could make his first start since recovering from a hamstring problem – having featured as a substitute against Chelsea –while Wenger could again look to his youth ranks to supplement the first team.
Among those who could feature after starting the last FA Cup game against Sunderland. The 19 year old has also appeared in the Capital One Cup and the Champions League against Bayern Munichas well as four times in the Premier League from the bench and admits forcing his way into the Arsenal first team is a tough ask.
"It is very hard," he told the club's official website. "You need to train well every day and you have to be in the boss' eye and his mind all the time so that is what I'm trying to do all the time. I was just hoping to go out and learn but to play for Arsenal's first team means so much [to me] because when I play I think about all I have done to get to where I am and I feel so happy to do it.
"I had a few chances like against Swansea where I came on and against Bayern Munich. I got to play 90 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday. I got a few chances and now I'm hoping to get some more. I don't know what to expect nowadays but playing at the Allianz Arena with the world's best players was just crazy. I'm taking it as it comes. You have to always be prepared as you never know when that chance will come."