Arsenal news: Per Mertesacker set to return for Stoke clash
By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Per Mertesacker is set to be available for Arsenal this weekend following a two-match absence, Football Insider sources understand.
The German centre-back missed the club’s clashes against Newcastle and Liverpool due to an illness.
But he has now fully recovered and will be in a contention for a place in Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up as they prepare to face Stoke at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Gabriel deputised impressively for Mertesacker against Newcastle and Liverpool, firstly in alliance with Calum Chambers against the Merseysiders and then alongside the fit-again Laurent Koscielny at St James’ Park.
Wenger places great value in Mertesacker’s experience and leadership and the Germany World Cup winner will be expected to slot straight back in the team on Saturday.
However, Mertesacker’s regular defensive partner Koscielny could be a doubt after aggravating the back problem that forced him out of the Liverpool match 15 days ago while on international duty.
The France international has suffered from a psoas muscle injury in the lower part of his back and missed his country’s match against Serbia on Monday night as a precaution. He had played the full 90 minutes as they beat Portugal 1-0 last Friday.
Football Insider revealed on the morning of the Newcastle match that Koscielny had been passed fit to return to the team after Arsene Wenger had rated him doubtful to be involved.
Medical staff with the France national team have insisted that Koscielny’s back is not a major problem but Arsenal will assess it when the defender returns to the club on Wednesday before deciding whether he will play any part against Stoke.