Arteta return from injury boosts Arsenal ahead of Stoke clash
PUBLISHED: 10:48 20 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:50 20 September 2013
Mikel Arteta returns to the Arsenal squad for Sunday’s visit of Stoke City and manager Arsene Wenger expects him to challenge for his midfield place in the coming weeks despite the impressive performances of Mathieu Flamini.
The Frenchman returned for a second spell with the Gunners this summer after his contract at AC Milan expired and he has slotted seamlessly back in the midfield five years after he left for Italy.
It would seem a direct replacement for Arteta who has been out of action all season with a thigh injury, but Wenger expects the Spaniard to return to his best.
“He’s very influential and he’s a leader,” the manager said of Arteta. “He’s a technical leader as well.
“We are happy to have him back because with the number of injuries we have at the moment, we are a bit short.
“It’s good news.”
It is a welcome boost for Arsenal as their injury list begins to clear and Wenger said: “We are a squad and cannot play with 11 players for the whole season but I believe that Arteta will get back in the team and Flamini and all of them will get their fair share of games.
“You calculate in the squad, [that] the maximum the players can play [is] 70 per cent of the games and that means there is a lot of room for the other players.
“I think we have the right number and when everybody is back we’ll have competition for places, especially in the midfield.”
Santi Cazorla (ankle) remains sidelined, so record signing Mesut Ozil is set for his home debut.
Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky (thigh) is also still out, along with France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo (back), German forward Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and longer-term absentees Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee).
Provisional squad: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud, Fabianski, Akpom, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal, Frimpong, Gnabry, Arteta.