Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko both returned to Arsenal training on Wednesday. As far as I can tell, they were both full participants, too. Having both fit and available to face Chelsea on Sunday will be a massive boost for Mikel Arteta, who hasn’t had his preferred starting XI all fit at the same time since Arsenal beat Tottenham at the start of October.
Zinchenko has been out since that match with a calf problem, which had also forced him to miss time earlier in the season. As we’ve seen with players like Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe, those soft tissue injuries have a tendency to linger and can rear their heads later in a season if not managed properly.
Saka was forced off against Nottingham Forest after being on the receiving end of several nasty kicks in the foot and ankle. After the match, Mikel Arteta suggested that it likely wasn’t anything serious, and it’s good to see he and the medical staff were correct in that assessment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both him and Zinchenko get a brief run-out against FC Zurich, nor would I be surprised if Mikel Arteta left them both on the bench.
The pair join Mohamed Elneny as recent returns from the training room. The midfielder rejoined the squad at London Colney last weekend after two months on the shelf due to surgery to repair a hamstring injury that he suffered against Fulham in August. At one point, Elneny was expected to be out until January, but he has recovered well ahead of schedule. His return frees up Sambi Lokonga to move into the left-side #8 role that he’d played in the preseason, which would give Granit Xhaka a rest (a rest he’s getting anyway against FC Zurich because of yellow card suspension). Elneny could make his return to the pitch against FC Zurich.
Only Emile Smith Rowe, who had surgery to repair a groin problem and is expected to be out until the new year, and Matt Turner, who was held out as a precaution against PSV Eindhoven with some tightness in his groin, remain on the Arsenal injury report. The last time the Gunners got a bunch of players back, multiple guys promptly picked up injuries. Let’s avoid that this time around, yeah?