Arsenal handed boost ahead of Atletico Madrid after Henrikh Mkhitaryan trains
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsene Wenger has been handed a boost with Henrikh Mkhitaryan training ahead of Arsenal playing Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday.
The 29-year-old suffered a recurrence of a knee injury at Old Trafford after scoring the Gunners goal in a 2-1 defeat on Sunday.
However, the Islington Gazette monitored the former Manchester United attacker during Arsenal’s open training session at a freezing London Colney on Wednesday morning.
The Armenian is set to be included in the team against Diego Simeone’s Atleti in their new 67,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitana stadium in the crucial match – which could be Wenger’s final European game in charge of the Gunners.
Mkhitaryan was absent throughout the majority of last month with a knee injury he picked up in the 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the Europa League quarter-final first leg win at the Emirates but made a timely return to the Arsenal XI against his former boss Jose Mourinho at the weekend.
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David Ospina who has been suffering with a rib injury also joined training.
Wenger is still to confirm if the Colombian or Petr Cech will start the match, with the former having a good game in the first leg at a raucous Emirates.
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Simeone is set to start Diego Costa after he was left on the bench for the first leg due to a hamstring injury.
However former Chelsea striker Costa came through the 1-0 win at Alaves on Sunday, completing an hour, and played a full part in training on Tuesday.
After their goalless draw with Real Betis before they travelled to London, Atleti have now kept an impressive 11 consecutive clean sheets at home, with Girona striker Portu the last visiting player to score.
That run includes victories in previous Europa League knockout ties against FC Copenhagen (1-0), Lokomotiv Moscow (3-0) and Sporting Lisbon (2-0).
Atletico’s challenge is based on a watertight defence featuring the world class Jan Oblak who performed extremely well in North London as he has all season as his Atleti side have only conceded a miserly 18 goals - three fewer than champions Barcelona and 19 fewer than city rivals Real Madrid in third place.
After the match in Spain Wenger then faces Burnley at the Emirates on Sunday in what will be his final home match as Arsenal boss.
It promises to be an emotional affair, with only Huddersfield Town on Sunday week being his final ever match – unless Arsenal can pull off one of the greatest results in their history by beating Atletico, in which case his swansong will be the Europa League final in Lyon on May 16.