Soccer-Arteta ready for Arsenal return after injury


Sept 20 (Reuters) - Influential Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta is ready to return to the squad after missing the start of the season with a thigh injury, the Premier League club's manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.

The Spaniard has missed the team's opening four league matches, as well as Wednesday's 2-1 win at Olympique Marseille in the Champions League, and his return to the side is a further boost for the north Londoners who have enjoyed a good start to their campaign.

"The only player who could come back into the squad is Arteta, he comes back into full training today, I have to make the decision about him tomorrow morning," Wenger told a news conference.

"He's very influential and he's one of the leaders of the team and is a technical leader as well. We are happy to have him back because at the moment with the number of injuries we have we are a bit short and we have plenty of games in front of us."

Arsenal, with nine points, host Stoke City on Sunday (1230 GMT) without several players including midfielders Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), Santi Carzola (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and forward Lukas Podolski (hamstring).

As well as the impending return of Arteta, another positive for Arsenal is the form of midfielder Aaron Ramsey who scored his side's second goal in Marseille this week and has netted six times this season in all competitions

If selected on Sunday, the Welshman will be coming up against the team who bring back bad memories for him after he suffered a career-threatening leg break following a tackle from defender Ryan Shawcross in February, 2010.

Wenger said it had taken his player a considerable amount of time to recover mentally from the incident while the injury had sidelined him for nine months.

"It took him a long time to get back completely over that, especially in the duels, in the fights," the Frenchman said.

"He had a little resistance to go into the fights for a long, long time but now he is over it. He scores goals now.

"I always thought he would score goals if he improves his technical quality...he has improved tremendously on that and that's why he scores goals. He has a great engine, great spirit and has an obsession - he wants always to be better."

Ramsey's team mate Theo Walcott said it was an honour to be playing with him in his current form.

"It always takes time when you have injuries," Walcott said on the club website ( "He had one of the worst injuries around in football. He's had a hard pre-season, he's worked really hard and it's definitely paying off now.

"He's enjoying his football and it's going to be difficult to get him off the football pitch, I'm pretty sure of that...I see him in training every day and he's looking a totally different player. He's like a new signing."

(Reporting by Sonia Oxley; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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