By Richard Clarke
Thomas Vermaelen is set to make his full debut at Everton on Saturday, however Arsène Wenger still has a number of injury concerns going into the opening match of the Premier League campaign.
The Belgian missed the latter end of pre-season with a hamstring problem but returned on Wednesday night by playing 45 minutes for Belgium.
That is the upside of the injury news. The downside is that Wenger could be without as many as six players for Saturday evening’s match. Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Samir Nasri (broken leg) were already sidelined before the manager spoke to Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon. However, in that interview, the Frenchman ruled out Theo Walcott (back), Johan Djourou (knee) and Lukasz Fabianski (knee) from the trip to Goodison Park, while Abou Diaby (groin) is classed as a doubt.
“We have some problems,” admitted Wenger. “We have Theo Walcott (back), who is not available. Diaby has a little groin problem but he could be available.
“[Also] we have lost Johan Djourou and Lukasz Fabianksi because they had injuries. Lukasz had a cartilage surgery. He will be out for two months. Johan has a knee problem that will take some time to cure - one month.
“Thomas Vermaelen played 45 minutes for Belgium last night and came through OK so he will be available.”
Rosicky and Nasri collected their problems in pre-season. Both midfielders are working their way back but, even when they have recovered. they will still require rehabilitation.
“Tomas Rosicky is two weeks away,” said Wenger. “Samir Nasri [is out] three-and-a-half weeks now. But it will be six or seven weeks until he is available for training.”
Arsenal TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full interview on Friday morning. In it, the boss talks about:
- the latest on Brede Hangeland
- the transfer market in general
- the strength of the top four
- the main challengers to them
- how the promoted sides will cope
- his tactical plans for the season ahead
- starting the season well
- the consistent quality of David Moyes’ management