After a frenetic 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal will look for a return to winning ways when they entertain Slaven Bilic’s West Ham side on Wednesday evening.
Arsene addressed fresh injury concerns, potential returns and more questions regarding his future in the pre-match presser.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are set for returns after respective injuries, but first-choice defender Laurent Koscielny (achilles) is set for an unspecified length of time on the sidelines.
Wenger was quoted as saying, “There is a good chance they are back. We lose Koscielny, how long I don’t know. We need a strong run and everybody on board.”
Citing the FA Cup semi-final fixture against Manchester City still to play, Wenger also said: “It’s all to go for. We are fighting to have a positive end to the season and that’s why we want the fans to stand behind the team.”
David Ospina (back) has sustained an injury which could see Emiliano Martinez start in goal and although the Argentine is a convincing shot-stopper, his lack of match practice could prove pivotal unless protected early on.
Gabriel was convincing – unlike performances against Bayern – once introduced in the second-half on Sunday. The Brazilian has looked impressive when called upon this term and will be eager to assert his quality once more.
Danny Welbeck’s workrate levels were admirable as City attempted to play out from the back against Arsenal on Sunday. His energy, physical presence and extra acceleration currently give him the edge over Giroud to start in a lone striker role, whilst it’s possible that the polarising figure of Theo Walcott will start once more too.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Bellerín, Mustafi, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, The Ox; Walcott, Alexis, Özil; Welbeck.
West Ham are currently on a winless run of six, with their last victory coming against Southampton in February.
It’s been an underwhelming season for the Hammers, one which promised plenty last summer. Since their surprise Europa League playoff exit, poor form and Dimitri Payet’s acrimonious departure has meant supporters cannot wait for the season to finish.
As for injuries, they have a number of doubts for contention against their local rivals. Full-back Aaron Cresswell (knock) and Winston Reid (groin) are both unavailable for selection. Michail Antonio (hamstring) and Diafra Sakho (back) could both potentially return into the matchday squad, but it’s unlikely that Bilic will play both from the start.
Apart from the aforementioned Saints, they have not yet defeated a team in the top half. With that in mind, they will be eager to improve their record against a volatile Arsenal side.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Cresswell, Collins, Fonte, Byram; Kouyaté, Fernandes; Snodgrass, Ayew, Lanzini; Carroll.