By Richard Clarke
Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri will all miss the trip to Stoke on Sunday but Thomas Vermaelen could return to the first-team after nine months out.
The Arsenal captain was a late omission from the 1-0 win over Manchester United last weekend because of a thigh injury. Abou Diaby (calf) missed the game too and Samir Nasri came off at the break with a hamstring problem.
Johan Djourou also failed to complete the 90 minutes and, along with Gael Clichy (hamstring), faces a late test ahead of the trip to Staffordshire.
Speaking to TV Online on Friday morning, Arsène Wenger confirmed that Aaron Ramsey would continue to deputise for Fabregas. The manager added that Vermaelen may be involved as well. The Belgian last played for the first team at Blackburn on August 28 last year.
“Diaby, Nasri and Fabregas will be out,” said Wenger. “Nasri and Fabregas have a little chance for Aston Villa but not for Stoke.
“Johan Djourou had a test yesterday that looked quite positive. We have a doubt about Clichy’s hamstring. He had a test that was not completely satisfactory, both have a chance to be fit.
“Thomas Vermaelen is available and could be in the squad. Aaron Ramsey is likely to get another chance, I can even say that he will play.”
TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full interview soon. In it, Arsène Wenger talks about:
- Aaron Ramsey returning to Stoke
- Jack Wilshere's England Under-21 call-up
- Arsenal’s role in the title race
- the Manchester United v Chelsea game
- his attitude to Cesc Fabregas speculation