11th February 2016: Welbeck return in sight + United States tour announced

Evening all. Arsene Wenger today provided an update on team news via the official site and revealed Danny Welbeck could be ready to make his long-awaited return from a knee injury against Hull in the FA Cup a week on Saturday.

In further good news for our challenge for silverware this season, the boss also confirmed that Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are back running, and their respective comebacks are now just a matter of weeks away. He said:

It is a similar squad available to last week, we are still early in the week but we should have everyone available. Of course Rosicky [is out], and Wilshere is not ready. But everyone else should be available. He (Welbeck) is doing well, it is a bit early for him maybe but he is now back to full power in training. It is a big possibility [he could be involved against Hull next week]. We gave him one or two days recovery after the under-21 game, but now he is back in full training. He has worked very hard and he is fit. They (Wilshere and Cazorla) are back running, they are on a fitness programme now so it means it is not a question of months anymore, it is a question of weeks for them to be back.

It’s good to know we’re getting there. The last three long-termers – if you exclude poor Tomas Rosicky – have comebacks in sight and even if being fit for full training and match-fitness are two different things, we can at least look forward to having three potentially first-choice players available for selection again in the not-too-distant future.

I’ve harped on about Cazorla’s importance to our side and how his absence has deprived our football of fluency often enough on this blog, but Welbeck, who is closest to a comeback, could prove a big player for us in the run-in.

Although he’s capable of playing on the flanks to great effect, it’s the prospect of him leading the line with Mesut Ozil in behind and Alexis Sanchez from the left that intrigues and excites.

Add either Aaron Ramsey, Joel Campbell or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the right and we have a front four with just about everything. Pace, skill, strength, creativity, endeavour and hopefully, lots of goals.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have announced their second tour of the USA in three summers. Having played Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls in 2014, Arsene will again take his squad across the Atlantic as part of their pre-season preparations for next season.

An announcement on the official site read:

Arsenal Football Club can announce that it will be playing two pre-season matches in the United States this summer. The first game will see Arsène Wenger’s side take on the 2016 MLS AT&T All-Stars at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Thursday, July 28 at 9pm (ET). MLS All-Star teams have previously featured former Arsenal players Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg and, this season, supporters could see the likes of Kaka, Didier Drogba, Sebastian Giovinco and Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS All-Star squad. The Gunners will then go on to play Chivas de Guadalajara at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 31 (kick-off time to be announced at a later date).

Whilst the boss had this to say on the upcoming trip:

Pre-season is a critically important time for us and we are delighted to be going to San Jose and Los Angeles to participate in the 2016 MLS All-Star game and to play Chivas. We have tremendous support across America and enjoyed our visit to New York in the summer of 2014 when we played the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. We look forward to giving our US fans the chance to see the team play live.

The club also confirmed these two fixtures would be our only ones outside of Europe during the close season.

Long-distance tours are obviously not ideal in term of preparation for a new campaign but they are now firmly part of the summer schedule for most clubs so at least we won’t be the only ones having to overcome jet-lag and time-zone readjustments.

On the plus side some of our growing number of fans in the States will be able to watch their team live and of course, the main reason for the trip, is to promote the Arsenal brand and earn some extra dough to perhaps put towards a Paul Pogba or a Paulo Dybala …

Back tomorrow after Arsene’s held his pre-Leicester presser.


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