Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been ruled out of contention for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Welbeck was thought to be nearing a return from the knee injury that forced him to miss the last two games, but manager Arsene Wenger has indicated the former United striker will not be making the trip to his old club, saying: “I would love to have him available but we will have to do without him.”
Chamberlain has not featured for Arsenal since their 2-1 FA Cup triumph at Old Trafford, but Wenger indicated his focus is on shaking off a groin injury in time for the FA Cup final against Aston Villa at the end of May.
Wenger said: “He won’t play next week. If he can be available for West Brom [on the final day of the league season] then he may play the final.”
Arsenal can still challenge Manchester City for second place in the Premier League – they are three points adrift with two games left – but Wenger is already looking to next season and wants a positive result to ensure the season ends on a high.
The Frenchman added: “Our recent away form has been very strong and that’s always a sign of a team who is in progress.
“We feel we have made progress. Only one thing shows you have made progress and that’s the continuity in your performances.”
Reflecting on recent visits to Old Trafford, which include the FA Cup victory in March and an 8-2 defeat three years ago, Wenger said: “We have good, fantastic, and very bad memories, but what we want is to show we are a solid team.
“To win at Old Trafford again would convince us that we have the strength and help us be stronger next season.”
Wenger praised his opposite number Louis van Gaal for his performance in his first season at Old Trafford, and said he expects even stiffer competition from United next season.
“He has shown that he has the personality to be at a club of that size,” Wenger said. “We expect them to buy some strong players.”
The trip to United comes too soon for defender Mathieu Debuchy, as Wenger revealed: “It was his first day back out [training on Thursday]. He had a hamstring problem.”