Arsenal were handed a significant injury boost going into the second half of the season after Danny Welbeck returned to full training after a seven-month absence on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old forward suffered a knee ligament injury in May during a clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and had to undergo surgery which ruled him out initially for at least nine months. Welbeck has made an earlier than expected return to training, but Arsene Wenger has urged caution with regards to his return to the pitch.
Arsenal take on Crystal Palace on New Year's day, but it is unlikely Welbeck will make the squad for the clash owing to his lengthy absence and short stint with the first-team in training. The England international's knee injury came just as he was on a comeback trail from a similar injury that had kept him out during the first half of the 2015/16 season. The recurrence, however, was not due to rushing the player back but due to a strong tackle during the game at the Etihad.
Welbeck's return will give Wenger a welcome headache going into the second-half of the season on the attacking front. Alexis Sanchez has firmly established himself as the first choice number nine after the manager moved him to a more central role this season.
Olivier Giroud has had to be content with a place on the bench with his first start in the league coming during Arsenal's 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. Lucas Perez, who was signed this summer from Deportivo La Coruna, has generally been used on the wings or as a second striker from the bench.
The former Manchester United striker is also likely to be afforded game time mainly on the flanks when he returns but will have his task cut out in nailing down a regular place in the starting lineup. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who are both injured at the moment, have priority for the wide positions along with the ever improving Alex Iwobi, who after starting the season as first choice has now dropped behind Chamberlain for a place on the left-wing.