Key Arsenal trio train ahead of showdown against Chelsea
By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin all took part in full training for Arsenal on Saturday.
The returning trio trained with the first-team squad as Arsene Wenger’s team stepped up preparations for Sunday’s Premier League showdown against Chelsea.
Ozil is in line to returning to the starting line-up after injury while Alexis Sanchez is targeting a place on the substitute’s bench against the champions after two months out.
Midfield anchorman Francis Coquelin is a month ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee ligament damage that has sidelined him since November.
Arsenal did not expect the Frenchman to play again until at least March but he returned to training on Thursday morning as he targets a first-team return.
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Ozil missed the goal-less draw at Stoke last Sunday with what Arsenal claimed was a minor foot injury while Sanchez was deemed to be too much of a gamble to make his long-awaited return.
Wenger said: “Ozil will be available, Sanchez has the two days to prove it but I think this time will be available.
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“The doubt about Alexis is linked with him having been out for a long time and the risk of a setback. To be clear on all the medical tests and after training is one thing, but you can never replicate the intensity of a big game and that is why I am cautious with him.
“We cannot afford another setback because that would mean a very long period out and we don’t want to take this gamble. But the signs he has shown in training this week are very positive.”
The Chilean has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury at Norwich on 29 November.
He has had a series of setbacks in his increasingly complicated recovery and, despite returning to training a week ago, was deemed to be only 95 per cent fit by Wenger.
As revealed by Football Insider, the Arsenal manager is fearful that Sanchez could be out for another three months if he aggravates his hamstring problem.