Arsenal’s hopes of overcoming Atletico Madrid in their own backyard have been given a lift by the news that Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be fit to face the Spaniards.
The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in their Europa League semi-final first leg last week; a result seen as extremely disappointing for Arsenal given Atleti played 80 minutes of the match with just 10 men.
It all means Arsenal go into Thursday’s second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano as clear second favourites – but at least their hopes should be lifted by the availability of Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian missed the first leg against Diego Simeone’s men after picking up a knee injury, but returned to duty for Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at his former club, Manchester United. Mkhitaryan was, arguably, Arsenal’s best player at Old Trafford, scoring their goal to almost earn them a draw.
However, his withdrawal in the 76th minute with a recurrence of the injury made him a major doubt for Thursday’s return.
However, his presence at training on Wednesday morning at least gave the Gunners a timely lift and enhanced their hopes of ending Wenger’s reign with a much-hoped-for European trophy.
David Ospina, who had been struggling with a rib problem, was also present at London Colney on Wednesday, though Wenger is yet to confirm whether Ospina or Petr Cech will start in goals in the Spanish capital.
Discussing Arsenal’s injury concerns, Wenger said: “Mkhitatryan had a little knock on his knee.
“Ospina has a rib problem and [Alex] Iwobi has a hamstring problem.”
Wenger has also hinted he could give Konstantinos Mavropanos a start on Thursday night after he caught the eye at Old Trafford.
“Mavropanos in training has shown top quality,” Wenger said. “Can he show that in a big game? You never know. I think he did. He has surprised everyone by his quality.”
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