By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger’s side can go top of the table if they repeat their 2-0 win at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday and the return of the two midfielders will only help their cause. The Brazilian has been out since he was stretchered off with a rib injury in the final minutes against Everton on January 9. Walcott has been missing since December 27 because of hamstring trouble.
On the downside, Fran Merida is out. The Spaniard suffered a kick on his ankle at Bolton just before he netted the visitors’ second goal 12 minutes from time.
Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) suffered injuries in the build-up to that game. Both are expected to be out for three weeks.
However Nicklas Bendtner, who has been sidelined since October 31, has a return date. The Danish striker is pencilled in for a comeback at Aston Villa in 10 days’ time.
“Denilson and Walcott are available for Wednesday night,” Wenger told Arsenal TV Online on Monday afternoon.
“It is a big boost of course because they were out for a while and it gives us some fresh players. Walcott has been unlucky with some small niggling injuries and so it is good to have him back.
“Nicklas Bendtner should be available for the Villa game on January 27 too. He should be back from next week onwards – Monday or Tuesday. Maybe he will not be completely ready for Stoke but, after that, he should be able to be in the squad.
“Unfortunately we have lost Fran Merida who got kicked straight away when he came on [at Bolton] and his ankle was very bad today. But that is all we should lose from Sunday.
“However Nasri and Ramsey will be 21 days each. We could have a good surprise with both because they are usually quick recovering players but common sense tells us 21 days.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Jan 2010