Monday 16 December 2019

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez could return for Arsenal's clash with Chelsea on Sunday

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have yet to sign contracts at Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have yet to sign contracts at Arsenal

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal remain hopeful that both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will return for Sunday’s Premier League match against the champions Chelsea.

The creativity of the club’s two best outfield players was clearly missed during the goalless draw against Stoke City on Sunday although goalkeeper Petr Cech did gather the players after the match to stress that they should regard the result as a point gained rather than two lost.

It took Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League and, having lost four of their previous seven matches at the Britannia Stadium, Theo Walcott was adamant that it demonstrated what he believes is the strongest collective dressing-room mentality during his decade at the club.

Ozil was left out of the squad on Saturday morning due to an inflammation in his foot but should be recovered for Sunday while Sanchez is again back in full training after being sidelined for almost two months with a hamstring strain.

Mohamed Elneny and Tomas Rosicky will also again train with the squad this week and are in contention for at least a place among the substitutes. It is now exactly 10 years since Walcott joined Arsenal from Southampton for what was then a world record transfer fee for a 16-year-old.

"The mental strength in this dressing room's the strongest it's ever been,” said Walcott. “When you have the likes of Petr Cech come into the dressing room as well he just enhances that. He's a leader. He's lifted everybody's heads up in that dressing room saying this is a very good point. No-one tends to win here. We've just got to look at him because he's obviously been at the top level and won many things. We’ve got to proud of that point."

The match was partially overshadowed, however, by the persistent booing of Aaron Ramsey by Stoke City supporters. Ramsey broke his leg against Stoke in 2010 and the bad feeling that followed Ryan Shawcross’ dangerous tackle is still yet to subside.

Stoke fans were heard to chant “he walks with a limp” in reference to Ramsey, a sentiment that has been condemned by Stoke chairman Peter Coates.

“I’ve no idea that chant had taken place, but we wouldn’t approve of it at all,” Coates told the Guardian. “I don’t think it’s a minority of fans; I know it’s a minority. People chant all sorts of awful things at all sorts of grounds, which I dislike. But do I approve of that sort of chanting? Of course I don’t.”

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