Friday, 30 December 2016

Arsenal team news: Shkodran Mustafi returns to face Crystal Palace as Danny Welbeck continues recovery

Arsenal will welcome back defender Shkodran Mustafi for the New Year’s Day clash with Crystal Palace after he recovered from the hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined for the last three weeks.

Mustafi limped out of Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Stoke City on 10 December, and was ruled out by manager Arsene Wenger until 2017 in what proved to be a blow to their Premier League title hopes. At the time of the German’s injury, the Gunners were just three points off league leaders Chelsea, but suffered two straight defeats to slip nine points off the Blues.

They also conceded four goals in those two matches, with replacement Gabriel Paulista proving something of a liability at the back alongside Laurent Koscielny, but there was good news on Mustafi’s recovery as Wenger confirmed he will return for Sunday’s clash with Palace at the Emirates Stadium.
However, he did confirm that Kieran Gibbs will not feature in the Premier League encounter, with a knee problem set to keep him sidelined for the start of the year.

“I don’t think Kieran Gibbs will be available,” said Wenger. “Apart from that Mustafi is fit again and we have one or two uncertainties .

“A few with flu but everybody else should be available. Gibbs has a knee problem and Walcott has a calf problem, short term, I don’t think he will available this week.”
There was also a boost in the form of Danny Welbeck’s from a serious knee injury, with the England international inching closer towards his return from cartilage damage suffered back in May.

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