Arsenal welcome Swansea City to the Emirates on Saturday afternoon looking to close the gap on the top-four.
We head into the game off the back of two draws away to Aston Villa and Everton, and currently sit seventh in the league – five points off fourth-placed West Brom – so victory on Saturday is vital to maintain our hopes of Champions League qualification.
Swansea are only a further point behind us after an impressive 3-1 win over WBA in midweek with Michael Laudrup beginning to stamp his own style on the Welsh side after replacing Brendan Rodgers in the summer.
Lukas Podolski should return after missing Wednesday’s draw with Everton with a virus. Bacary Sagna is a major doubt with a foot injury, so Carl Jenkinson is on stand-by to step in at right back.
Laurent Koscielny has been ruled out for three weeks with a thigh strain meaning Thomas Vermaelen will move into the middle alongside Per Mertesacker with Kieran Gibbs restored at left back.
Theo Walcott was carrying a knock against Everton but should be fit to start, and while I feel Arteta and Cazorla are in desperate need of a rest, we can’t take any chances this weekend and three points is vital. As we’ve already secured qualification, I would prefer to see them left out against Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Tomas Rosicky is back in full training and was on the bench against Everton, so perhaps he could make a substitute appearance before starting against the Greeks next week.
Andre Santos remains out with a stomach injury and joins Abou Diaby and Lukasz Fabianski on the treatment table.
Pablo Hernandez is a major doubt for the visitors after picking up a thigh injury, should he miss out Jonathan de Guzman is set to step in.
Swansea are hoping to have striker Danny Graham back after illness but he may have to make-do with a place on the bench. Neil Taylor, Michel Vorm and Darnel Situ remain out with long-term injuries.
Anything other than three points and i fear Arsene Wenger may be on the wrong end of some rough treatment from the Emirates faithful this weekend. Thankfully for the boss, I’m confident we can overcome a dangerous Swansea side. The back-four is beginning to look more solid and if we can start to click in the final third, we’ll have ‘our Arsenal back’. Arsenal 2-0 Swansea. COYG!
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