Vermaelen's timely return a boost for Wenger
Arsene Wenger is confident that Thomas Vermaelen can finally return from his mystery Achilles tendon injury next month for what will be a crucial period in Arsenal's season.
Vermaelen has seen a variety of specialists for an injury that has prevented him from playing for Arsenal since August 28, but there is now considerable hope that the problem is being solved by the use of a protective boot.
With Arsenal's defence having kept only one clean sheet in their last eight matches, there is a sense that their chances of success this season -- particularly in the Champions League tie against Barcelona -- will depend on the recovery of Vermaelen over the second half of the season.
"Overall the injury situation looks quite positive," Wenger said. "We think Thomas Vermaelen can return in January. Abou Diaby is back in full training.
"Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie have had more minutes on the pitch and are getting better and better.
"This Championship remains very open. Don't forget that we have played at Manchester United, at Manchester City, at Chelsea and at Liverpool, so we are in a very strong position."
With their match against Stoke City on Saturday cancelled due to the snow, Arsenal's next fixture is against Chelsea next Monday.
Looking back on last Monday's 1-0 defeat against Manchester United, Wenger said: "We looked a little nervous at Old Trafford. I think we put a bit too much pressure on our shoulders. I think nerves were present."