By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger kicked off his pre-match press conference with some good news on Tuesday: Arsenal's injury list is shrinking at last.
The manager had nine players sidelined last week but Aaron Ramsey returned for the FA Cup tie at Stoke and three others are back in contention ahead of Wednesday's trip to Aston Villa.
"The list of injuries is going down a bit," said Wenger.
"We have Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner back in full training, so that is quite good news for us. Abou Diaby is injured, but Bacary Sagna is back."
Nasri was ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring problem eight days ago and has recovered faster than expected. Bendtner has had to wait rather longer - he limped out of the North London derby on October 31 with a thigh injury. And Sagna is fit after protecting his shoulder problem at the weekend.
That just leaves five players on the sidelines: long-term absentees Robin van Persie, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou plus Fran Merida and Diaby.
Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed that Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas will return to the starting line-up at Villa Park on Wednesday.
"Yes [it will be the normal defensive pairing]," he said.