Fit-again Coquelin set to return

LONDON • Francis Coquelin's return for today's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Burnley will hand Arsenal a major lift following last Sunday's 1-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea.

Burnley visit the Emirates six days after Diego Costa's match-winning goal prevented the Gunners returning to the top of the Premier League.

The way Arsene Wenger's FA Cup holders respond against a side challenging for promotion from the Championship will be a test of character.

Coquelin's return two months after suffering knee ligament damage at West Bromwich Albion will help Arsenal recover from their latest stumble.

Wenger's side have stuttered in recent weeks, winning just two of their last six league games. And, while the league is clearly the club's priority this season, progress towards a third successive FA Cup triumph will provide a welcome confidence boost.

Coquelin is expected to start on the bench and could be joined by Tomas Rosicky, who made a 45-minute appearance for the club's Under-21 side last week.

  • 2 victories for Arsenal in their last six Premier League matches

With Alexis Sanchez having returned following a hamstring problem as a second-half substitute against Chelsea and Danny Welbeck returning to full training, Arsenal's injury list is finally shrinking.

Midfielders Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla remain the two most notable absentees while Per Mertesacker is suspended after being sent off against Chelsea.

Mertesacker believes the way Arsenal have coped with a succession of injuries reflects the growing strength of Wenger's squad.

The centre-back told "Players have stepped up, brought their energy and we've got the results. The team are much stronger. There are challenges ahead but they make us even stronger, and the team spirit is huge."

Burnley are chasing an instant return to the Premier League but manager Sean Dyche insists he would love to achieve another Cup shock, after his side knocked out Middlesbrough in the third round.

Burnley have also won four of their last five league games to climb to third in the Championship as they look to bounce back from last season's relegation.

Dyche said: "Historically, Arsenal lose two games a season at the Emirates Stadium, so we have to be part of a very small group. It's a big ask to do that but we will go down there with a team in good spirits and look to perform and see where it gets us."

Midfielder Dean Marney is Burnley's only injury doubt with a calf problem.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Fit-again Coquelin set to return'. Print Edition | Subscribe