Arsenal have been boosted by the timely return of German International Mesut Ozil and Welshman Aaron Ramsey ahead of their game at home against Stoke City on Sunday.
Ozil and Ramsey’s return to fitness is a huge plus for the Gunners who are aiming to get back into the top 4 after a poor start to the season. Ozil has been out of action for upto 3 months after picking up a knee ligament injury in the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in October. Alongside the return of Arsenal’s two most important players, Flamini is also back from a groin injury.
Olivier Giroud returns to the squad after completing his 3 game suspension after the red card he picked up against QPR at home on Boxing Day. However, the match comes too early for striking team-mate Danny Welbeck, who is still out with a thigh injury but Arsene Wenger is confident he will be available for selection for Arsenal’s huge game at Manchester City next week.
Stoke City come to the Emirates in a confident mood after a fine run of form, over the festive period. Bojan is a doubt for the potteries after missing the New Year’s Day game against Manchester United while new signing Philipp Wollscheid is itching for his debut after signing from Bayer Leverkusen.
Arsene Wenger has not decided yet to whether or not Wojciech Szczesny will return to the first 11, after the Pole emerging in headlines for his smoking scandal after his poor display away to Southampton on New Year’s Day. That could therefore see David Ospina continue in goal after his clean-sheet against Hull City in the FA Cup.
Arsene Wenger should have a full strength defence to pick from after the return to fitness of Laurent Koscielny. Koscielny will be joined in the back four with Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertersacker and Kieran Gibbs.
The positive displays in the defensive midfield role from Francis Coquelin over the festive period could see him retain his place in midfield even though Flamini has returned from injury. Aaron Ramsey’s return from injury would seemingly put him in the midfield alongside in-form Santi Cazorla.
Wenger admitted that Mesut Ozil is available for selection, however he has not decided if he will start him or not. After being out of action for a considerable amount of time, it will seem that Ozil will start from the bench.
The front three should pick itself. Alexis Sanchez will start alongside the returning Olivier Giroud from suspension and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will take up the final position in the front three. Wenger will slowly ease Theo Walcott back into the first team after a long time out with injury.
Arsenal XI: Ospina, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey, Cazorla, Alexis, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Stoke City will have a familiar team to the one they had against Manchester United on New Year’s Day. Asmir Begovic will start in goal with a back four of Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Muniesa and Erik Pieters in front.
The midfield will see Jonathan Walters start alongside Glenn Whelan, Steven N’zonzi and Austrian Marko Arnautovic.
The strike force of Peter Crouch and Mame Biram Diouf will look to cause problems towards Arsenal’s back-line after injury doubts still remaining over Bojan.
Stoke XI: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Muniesa, Erik Pieters, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, Steven N’zonzi, Marko Arnautovic, Peter Crouch, Mama Biram Diouf.