Arsenal Given Injury Boost Ahead of Massive Match in Manchester

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COMMENTARY | Arsenal midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere are back in training today ahead of the team's big match against Manchester United on Sunday. Flamini has not played his injuring his groin almost two weeks ago, while Wilshere suffered a minor ankle issue last week.

Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, spoke to Arsenal.com today about the availability of his injured midfielders. "Normally, Flamini will join us in the session this morning. Wilshere will join in as well, so we will see how they are after the session today. Flamini, I am quite confident will be fully available. Wilshere, we will see how he responds to his inflammation of the ankle."

Arsenal forwards Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott should also return from their injuries soon. While neither Podolski nor Walcott are expected to be fit for Sunday's match, they are most likely set to return to the squad after the international break towards the end of the month. Podolski has not featured in an Arsenal match since badly injuring his hamstring against Fenerbahce in August, while Walcott was forced to have an abdominal procedure in September.

Wenger also discussed his defensive players with Arsenal.com. While Arsenal's midfielders receive most of the media's attention (and rightly so), Wenger praised his four defenders for their focus over the team's last few games. "The defensive urgency, the defensive focus of everybody from the first to the last minute (has improved). You couldn't feel in the Dortmund game that our concentration level dropped at any moment. For the first time from the first to the last minute our concentration was at a very high level."

The French manager specifically hailed the central defensive partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. "It does work (the partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker), because they have the quality individually, they have the confidence and they certainly complement each other well, and also maybe because the whole team focuses to help them out as well."

Arsenal's defense as a whole has been superb this season, as the Gunners have only given up 15 goals in 18 total matches thus far. In Premier League play, Arsenal has not let in more than 1 goal in a match since the opening game of the season on August 17th. The Gunners have also had back-to-back shutouts in their last two Premier League matches.

Perhaps being lost in Arsenal's stellar defense is goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has quietly been fantastic as of late. The Polish international has a string of three straight clean sheets and has made multiple game-saving stops in all three of these matches. If the Gunners are to be successful in their trip to Old Trafford on Sunday, the Arsenal defense is going to have to have a solid match.

Christopher Moore has been following Arsenal Football Club for over 10 years.

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