Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger ready to bring back Hector Bellerin

Arsene Wenger is ready to put his faith back in Hector Bellerin as the Spanish full-back is set for a recall against Stoke on Saturday.

The 22-year-old has been relegated to the bench in recent weeks as the Gunners look to salvage their Premier League season by gatecrashing the top four.

Bellerin has started just one of the last six games despite his style appearing to suit Wenger's change in formation.

He was singled out for criticism by Arsenal fans during the 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last month and now the former Barcelona youngster, who has been linked with a return to Catalonia this summer, is likely to come into the team for a vital game at the bet365 Stadium.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been operating as Wenger's right-sided wing-back but limped out of Wednesday's 2-0 win at Southampton with a hamstring issue.

And Wenger insists he has no concerns with calling on Bellerin as they look for their first win at Stoke since 2010.

"He's an offensive player," the Arsenal boss explained.

"He started as a right midfielder and was transformed into a full-back.

"Look, he's a player who has a fantastic mentality. He went through a difficult period when he came back from his ankle injury, but I never questioned his attitude. He has great spirit."

Victory against the Potters would keep Arsenal's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive as they look to reel in either Liverpool or Manchester City.

Wenger saw his side win at St Mary's for the first time since their 'Invincibles' title-winning season of 2003/04 and wants them to continue that run at Stoke.

"We have to show the character again," he said.

"We have to play to win the games. Let's keep the focus on the way we want to play, on our team spirit. The team is together and fights and is ready for it.

"We have to recover now physically and see how everyone recovers for Saturday. I may need to make some changes: does Laurent Koscielny come back or not? How bad is Chamberlain? Bellerin is quite fresh, Koscielny has a small chance, he is not far. He trained on Tuesday."

The Gunners have only scored on one of their previous four trips to Stoke, with home games against relegated Sunderland and out-of-form Everton to come to finish the league campaign before an FA Cup final date with Chelsea.

While Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to sit out the game this weekend, it is understood his hamstring problem is not long term.

The 23-year-old will retain hopes of featuring in the cup final on May 27 as his future at the Emirates Stadium remains up for debate.

He, along with a number of other first-team players, has a little over a year to run on his contract and has been linked with a move away.

While Wenger is yet to announce if he will extend his own deal beyond the end of this campaign, the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sanchez will soon enter their final year.

Reports have suggested Sanchez has been offered a club-record wage to keep him at Arsenal and, despite cutting a frustrated figure towards the end of a disappointing season, the Chilean celebrated his goal against Saints by punching the badge on his shirt in front of the jubilant away fans.

And the former Barcelona man followed that up with an Instagram post on Friday, where an image of his celebration was accompanied by a cryptic message.

"If you want to know your past, you need to look at your present to get results. If you want to know your future look what you do now to achieve everything you want," he wrote.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph