Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker feels the Gunners need to get Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back to full fitness as soon as possible to boost their title chances.
The midfielder has been out of action since the opening day of the season after suffering a knee injury against Aston Villa. However, the England international played 45 minutes for Arsenal’s Under-21 side on Thursday and is set to return to first-team action for Monday’s trip to Villa.
“We need every single player and in particular Alex,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Official website. “It was a real shock when he was out after Aston Villa.”
“Following that game we did really well as a team but we need him because he can always make the difference with his speed, with his passing and obviously with his finishing. He can [make] absolutely a great impact for any team in the world so we are really pleased that he’s back.
“But I think he needs some time to get through training and to have some good games, but I’m really pleased for him that he got 45 minutes against Fulham. That is a step back to absolutely full fitness.”
Mertesacker says that he is pleased with the team’s performances so far this season and feels the Gunners have the right mix of youth and experience.
“Experienced players are always good but we need to stay in the right shape and in full fitness because with age you are more vulnerable to injuries and to things like that,” he said.
“We need to keep the focus high on our health and on the young talented players as well. But I think we have a great balance in the team and a good mixture, so if we keep that concentration high we have a good chance.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return will provide a big boost now that Theo Walcott has been ruled out for the season but the youngster will face a real battle on his hands to nail down a regular starting berth with even Serge Gnabry now in front of him in the pecking order.
The England international isn’t expected to start against Aston Villa and but he will be slowly introduced into the side following a lengthy spell on the sidelines. He will play an important role in the second part of the season with the Gunners still in contention in three competitions.
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