By Michael Cantillon
Francis Coquelin is fit again after injury and will return for Arsenal in their Champions League clash against Olympiakos on Tuesday night.
But Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, Coquelin’s rivals for the midfield anchorman berth, have both been ruled out of the match at the Emirates Stadium by manager Arsene Wenger.
“Coquelin is back training but we will see,” said Wenger on Monday afternoon. “Arteta and Flamini are not available. They are not big injuries, it’s a question of days.
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“Coquelin has been back since yesterday and I will have to see how he responds to two days training, but he looks alright.”
Coquelin has missed the Gunners’ last two matches after limping out of the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea nine days ago at the halfway mark with a knee injury.
Arteta and Flamini joined forces in midfield against Tottenham last Wednesday, with the Frenchman scoring both goals in a 2-1 win and then getting the nod to start alongside Santi Cazorla in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Leicester.
Flamini only lasted 21 minutes though before being replaced by Arteta at the King Power Stadium. Both are now unavailable.
Wenger insists Arsenal’s clash at home to Olympiakos is already a must-win game for his side following their defeat at Dinamo Zagreb in their first Champions League group match a fortnight ago.
“You have to win your home games if you want to qualify from the group stage. Its as simple as that.” Wenger said. “Both teams will always try to go forward. At home teams try to regroup and you have to be clinical.”
“We have a tough opponent now and cannot afford to drop points against anyone at home.”
Since that defeat in Zagreb, the Gunners have gone on to pick up two valuable victories on their travels at Tottenham in the League Cup and Leicester in the league.
In other Arsenal news, Wenger’s team face Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in a crucial fixture at the top of the Premier League. Wenger stated though, that he will not have that game in mind in terms of his team selection for Olympiakos.
“The weekend’s game will not interfere with that at all, it’s more the games we played before which could have an influence.
“You know some players played two tough games at Tottenham and at Leicester which were of a high level physically, so we have to analyse that today and make my decisions.”
By Michael Cantillon