Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta has provided an injury boost for manager Arsene Wenger after declaring himself ready to return to action. The Spanish midfielder is also refusing to throw in the towel ahead of the Champions League trip to Barcelona on Wednesday night (16 March) even though his side must overcome a 2-0 deficit at the Camp Nou if they are to go through to the quarter finals.
The 33-year-old has been hit by a number of injuries in recent months prompting suggestions that he could hang up his boots at the end of the campaign. Arteta missed much of last term because of various fitness issues and has only started two matches this season and is yet to play a game since appearing in the FA Cup victory over Burnley on 30 January. Speaking in the Arsenal official matchday programme before the 2-1 defeat against Watford, Arteta revealed that he is finally ready to play again.
"From a personal point of view I'm happy to report that I've been back in training with the rest of the team for a few days now. It's going well, I'm feeling good and I'm ready to make my contribution whenever I'm needed," he said.
The captain failed to make the squad for the defeat against the Hornets but could return to Wenger's plans for the trip to Barcelona, especially since Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are all set to miss out.
Arsenal will arrive in Barcelona under scrutiny following their FA Cup elimination and with Barcelona having just chalked up a resounding 6-0 victory over Getafe in La Liga. Arteta, however, believes that football is unpredictable and the Gunners can still turn around the 2-0 deficit from the first leg at the Emirates Stadium and go through.
"In football you just never know. We've been in situations like this before. It's a difficult position for us but you never know," the captain said. "Anything can happen in football. A team can go down to 10 men inside 15 minutes and be 1-0 down, then it's a different story. The game is on. Football can be funny like that. All we can do as a side is to be ready to take an opportunity that might come to us on the night."