Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger delivers positive injury update

SoccerBy Colm Hayes
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger delivers positive injury update

Ahead of their FA Cup clash with Burnley, the Gunners only long-term absentees are Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere as all other players are now taking part in training.

Arsene Wenger’s press conference this morning will have been music to the ears of Gunners fans as he revealed that the club’s injury crisis is now abating.

While midfield enforcer Francis Coquelin could play some part in the club’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Burnley, Danny Welbeck still needs to build up match fitness after a lengthy lay-off.

"We have many players back in training. Everybody but Cazorla and Wilshere are in training,” the Frenchman stated.

“Coquelin is in contention for tomorrow. The results are good. It is too soon for Welbeck.

"It has to be gradual, and he has to go through under-21 games," said Wenger of the England forward.

"Danny has not played since April and we are now in February so that is very long for a top-level competitor.

"That means you have to accept that he goes through small steps and one of them is to play in the under-21s for the first 45 minutes.

"He is basically fit but now he has to absorb the competition, the intensity of the competition, and that becomes the next step for him."

Wenger also stated that no more new signings will be coming to the Emirates as players continue to return.

When asked whether the club would look to sign any more players, he said: "No, not at the moment. We have 23 players in training - and plus two is 25 - so unless people go out we are not on the verge of bringing anybody in.

“Welbeck is coming back. Alexis Sanchez is back. We have the number of players we need upfront.

"David Opsina will play tomorrow. Mohamed Elneny might start and I will decide on Coquelin."

Having suffered a damaging 1-0 home Premier League defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, the Arsenal boss is focused on the Burnley tie as the North London outfit look to make it three FA Cup-winning campaigns in a row.

“You learn from defeat. The unfortunate thing is we didn't have a bad performance (against Chelsea)."

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men after Per Mertesacker up-ended Diego Costa, who Wenger raged at post-match, with 19 minutes gone before the Spain international scored the only goal of the game moments later.

"Ideally I don't want anyone to make a mistake but that is part of defending as well," Wenger said of Mertesacker's ill-timed challenge, in which he appeared to glance across at the linesman immediately before taking Costa down.

"We were caught on the counter-attack and we were of course in a bad position.

"When you are down on the pitch it happens all so quickly that if you are caught in a bad position for a fraction of a second it is impossible to correct and you have to accept that and live with it.

"We forget as well the number of times Mertesacker saves a goal that didn't happen. The risk is part of the game and you have to feel comfortable with that."

Wenger reasoned that Arsenal's opponents on Saturday will be no pushovers.

“All (of Burnley’s) players used to play in the Premier League. They will be competitive. We have to earn the right to qualify."

Regarding his own future, Wenger, who has 18 months to run on his current contract, added: "I am completely focused on doing well and give everything until the end of the season and then go for the next season hopefully.

"I don't imagine at this moment to manage anywhere else. Will I stop working once I stop managing at a competitive level? No, I will always try to work if I have health and try to be useful.

"Maybe it will be a different level. It could be managing kids or developing young players but I will not run for FIFA."