Arsenal have been given a huge boost during the international break as defender and captain Laurent Koscielny returned to full-contact training with the team this week ahead of the tricky run of fixtures.
The Arsenal captain has been out of action since April after rupturing an achilles in a Europa League semi-final meeting with Atlético Madrid, but was pictured at training this week ahead of his return to first team football.
Koscielny made headlines at the weekend when he announced his retirement from international football.
The centre-back, who has been out since April after rupturing an achilles in a Europa League semi-final meeting with Atlético Madrid, criticised Didier Deschamps’ selection process and the France national team set-up.
When asked by Canal+ (via Daily Star) whether Deschamps kept an eye on his progress, Koscielny replied “[Deschamps] called me once for my birthday in September. Otherwise, no. Lots of people disappointed me. Not only the coach.
“When you are in good form, you have lots of friends. When you are injured... after a certain period of time, you are forgotten about."
With the international break over Unai Emery’s men are now preparing for a huge week which will see them play three times in seven days.
While Koscielny has been participating in training again, he remains unlikely to return to action before next month.
Emery’s side have put together a run of nine wins on the bounce in all competitions since their 3-2 defeat at Chelsea, but at times their defence has still looked vulnerable.
The Gunners have conceded nine goals during this period. Against Fulham their defence was sliced open on a number of occasions in the first half and although the Frenchman is arguably past his best, the leadership qualities he offers can bring higher levels of assurance to an at times shaky backline.
Before Koscielny is able to bolster his manager’s defensive options his team-mates will hope to continue their nine-match winning streak against Leicester on Monday night.