Wednesday 26 November 2014

Ramsey back on board

Published 04/04/2014 | 11:37

Aaron Ramsey is set to return for Arsenal
Aaron Ramsey is set to return for Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident midfielder Aaron Ramsey can make a big impact on his long-awaited return from injury.

The Wales international has not featured since suffering a thigh strain at West Ham on Boxing Day, robbing Wenger of one of his key performers with the 23-year-old having scored an impressive 13 goals in the opening part of the season.

Ramsey was expected to initially only be out for around six weeks, but suffered a couple of setbacks to his recovery.

He is now set to be in the squad for Sunday's crunch Barclays Premier League trip to top-four rivals Everton.

The availability of the combative midfielder will come as a welcome boost for Wenger ahead of Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 7, which comes to soon for either playmaker Mesut Ozil or Jack Wilshere.

"Aaron has been out for a long time and has just joined in [training] yesterday, but he will be available," Wenger confirmed at Friday's press conference.

"He is an all-round midfielder who can score goals and drives the team forward always, a real box-to-box player, so it is good to have him back.

"That is an area where we are short because we have many midfielders out - we have Wilshere out, Ozil out in this area, so of course it is good to have him back."

Wenger added: "He has worked very hard for a while in training now. What he lacks is competition.

"It is a bit like that (signing a new player), yes. Of course he is somebody coming back, he can help the team be very successful. It can be like that, yes."

Arsenal will again be without centre-back Laurent Koscielny (calf) and also midfielder Serge Gnabry (knee), while defender Kieran Gibbs (ankle) is a doubt.

The Gunners head to Goodison Park seven points off leaders Liverpool following last weekend's morale-boosting 1-1 draw against Manchester City, but also only four points ahead of fifth-placed Everton, who hold a match in hand.

Wenger said: "For us it is an opportunity to go up forward and as well an opportunity to make a distance with Everton of course. It is both.

"The target is to finish as high as possible. Where that will be at the moment I must say, behind us will depend only on our results.

"In front of us will depend on our results and the results on the other teams, so that's impossible to predict."

Wenger added: "There are still a lot of twists and turns in the Premier League until the end of the season and there is no clear favourite.

"Liverpool has an advantage as they don't play any competition other than the Premier League for a long, long time so they have only one target and they can of course be stable in their preparation. That is a little advantage, but it is very tight."

Asked whether Arsenal were now a "little horse" in the title race, Wenger said: "Everybody has the right to see our size as big or as small as he wants.

"For us, on our side, no matter how big the chance is we have absolutely to give everything to fight for it."

Press Association

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