Arsène Wenger relishing return of strengthened squad after Bolton draw
ARSENE Wenger, the Arsenal manager, is looking forward to having his squad strengthened by the return of injured players as he looks to fight battles on three fronts.
Arsenal's goalless draw at Bolton was a missed opportunity to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea but on the positive side it ended a run of three defeats and also saw Bacary Sagna make his first start in four months after a broken leg.
With Mikel Arteta also starting for the first time in a month and left back Kieran Gibbs close to a return after groin surgery, Wenger believes his squad will be stronger to tackle the challenges of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
"Combining the league, FA Cup and Champions League will be difficult so it is important we don't have more injuries," said the Frenchman.
"We now have Sagna back, Gibbs is not far, Arteta is back so overall I hope we can cope with it."
Unfortunately for Wenger his hopes of having Jack Wilshere return suffered a setback yesterday when it was revealed the midfielder had sustained a stress fracture to his right ankle, having been sidelined for all the season with a problem which required surgery.
Wenger was unable to expand on the brief details the club had released but admitted not having the England international available was difficult.
"I don't know (the extent of the problem) really," he added. "We made a statement. I can talk and talk but I don't know any more than you.
"You want your best players available when you go to play in the Champions League and FA Cup in February and to get back into the top four so of course it is frustrating."
What was equally frustrating was his side's inability to take their chances at the Reebok Stadium with Robin van Persie having an early header cleared off the line before hitting the post and the crossbar in the second half.
"We feel we have dropped two points because we had chances to win the game," added the Arsenal manager.
"We took all the risks and were unlucky because we hit the bar and the post and had some great chances and at the end we took the gamble to play with four strikers and we nearly got caught in the last five minutes."
On the race for the top four, with Arsenal now seventh, Wenger added: "There is a long way to go and I am confident we can come back.
"We have gone through a difficult period, we've lost three league games (prior to last night's match) but we could have won the three as well.
"We have confidence but we have to produce it game by game – for us every game in the championship is a cup final for us now."