Arsenal could be handed a welcome boost in time for the Manchester United game as Mikel Arteta has revealed on the club's official website that he is only a week or two away from being in contention for first-team duties.
The 33-year-old has been out of action since November due to an ankle injury sustained in the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, and he has since been replaced in the starting line-up by the excellent Francis Coquelin.
‘’I haven’t trained enough with the team yet to come back into the side,’’ wrote Arteta in his programme notes for Sunday’s game against Chelsea, as published on Arsenal's official website.
‘’We need to manage the workload on the ankle. I played for the under-21s against Stoke recently, and I’ve been feeling OK, but I’m not in a position where I can feel perfect and just go out there and forget about my ankle.
‘’I need to train more with the team, get my confidence and build it up. My aim now is to train with the team for another week or two and then be able to say to the boss ‘OK, I’m ready now if you want to pick me’.’’
Going by his comments, Arteta could be back in the side when Arsenal play their potentially season-defining game against Manchester United in just over two weeks' time.
The former Everton midfielder led the side out at Wembley last season as Arsene Wenger’s men picked up their first piece of major silverware since 2005, and he will no doubt have the ambition of doing it once more.
Nevertheless, Wenger has seen a vast improvement in his side since Arteta was replaced by Coquelin in the starting line-up and could well stick with the Frenchman despite the Spaniard’s experience in big games.
If Wenger was to drop Coquelin now after he played a huge part in their surge up the table, then it could send out a bad message to other young players in the academy who will view the Frenchman as an example to follow.