Mesut Ozil
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil should return from injury against Crystal Palace this weekend


  • Gunners trio Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil may all return from injury this weekend.
  • However, Olivier Giroud is still a week away from being fit and Ainsley Maitland-Niles is struggling with flu.
  • Wenger says Alexis Sanchez could play on Saturday if his move to Manchester United is not completed by then.

Arsenal could receive a triple injury boost for upcoming matches against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, with Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil all potentially set to make their respective returns.

The absences of vice-captain Koscielny and the consistent Monreal have left the Gunners notably short on defensive quality amid a damaging five-match winless run that has seen them drop to sixth in the Premier League and eight points adrift of the top four.

The former has not played since the controversial draw at West Bromwich Albion on New Year's Eve as he seeks to manage a chronic long-term achilles condition and the latter was substituted at half-time during last month's six-goal thriller against Liverpool after suffering an ankle problem.

Ozil, meanwhile, saw a specialist after a lingering knee complaint forced him to sit out that aforementioned trip to The Hawthorns.

He featured for the entirety of the top-flight draw at Chelsea on 3 January before missing each of the next three games including the Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg stalemate against Antonio Conte's side, although would likely not have played any part in the shock FA Cup third-round defeat to Championship outfit Nottingham Forest anyway.

Wenger seemed positive that both Koscielny and Monreal would be ready for the visit of London rivals Palace on Saturday (20 January), while Ozil could also be in contention. However, versatile academy graduate Ainsley Maitland-Niles is struggling with illness and Olivier Giroud may not have fully recovered from a hamstring issue picked up against West Ham United in December until the midweek clash with bottom club Swansea City in 12 days' time.

Arsenal face Chelsea in the second-leg of their semi-final next Wednesday [24 January].

"From the last game at Bournemouth, we have some uncertainties with Maitland-Niles, who was sick yesterday with flu," Wenger told reporters at his pre-match press conference at London Colney on Thursday. "We should have Koscielny back, we should have Monreal back available for Saturday. Maybe Ozil will be back as well. That's the good news."

On Giroud, who has been linked with Borussia Dortmund as part of the deal that could see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang join Arsenal, he added: "Olivier Giroud is one week away."

Wenger also claimed that he would not hesitate to field Alexis Sanchez against Palace if his proposed high-profile transfer to Manchester United is not completed by then, despite omitting him entirely for the defeat to Bournemouth last weekend. The Chilean notched twice in a 3-2 win at Selhurst Park over the festive period.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan - expected to join Arsenal as part of the Sanchez deal - would need to be registered by midday tomorrow to have a chance of making his debut, but no other new arrivals are thought to be imminent.

Santi Cazorla, of course, remains a long-term absentee after hopes for a New Year comeback were scuppered in November by a ninth operation on a gruesome achilles injury that left him "starting at zero". The affable Spanish playmaker, who was told he would be fortunate to walk again and could have lost his leg after a nasty infection that led to the removal of eight centimetres of his tendon, has not played at all since October 2016.