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Jan 22, 2013

Wenger acknolwedges midfield issue

Arsene Wenger has conceded that Arsenal have an issue in defensive midfield as they attempt to counter the physicality of West Ham United at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

• Wenger: Arsenal have character

With Mikel Arteta still injured and Francis Coquelin having suffered a hamstring problem in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, Wenger will now have to decide whether to start Abou Diaby, who is himself not fully fit. Wenger revealed that the player has pushed himself to the limit after having come back from a three-month injury, and is now in need of a rest. That, however, would leave Arsenal short of players who can fill in there.

"We have [an issue there], I agree, and it is a position where we are short," Wenger said. "Anyway, we are short when Arteta is not there because he is a player with a lot of experience. He gives us stability and you could see that in the last two games. It is a position where we are a bit vulnerable at the moment.

"Diaby is one of the guys I will have to check today. He started... you could see that he was not completely physically fresh from the start on. He did dig deep on Sunday to do what he did. He played four games on the trot having been out for three months, and I will have to check him today."

Should the midfielder not be capable of starting, Wenger said, "that's a problem I will have to sort out".

Wenger did confirm, though, that Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have returned to full training after recent illnesses.

"Everybody else has to be assessed today, individually, but there is no major injury. Podolski is back in the squad because he's back to full training today and maybe Chamberlain [will be] back in the squad. He has been sick but maybe [he will] go out today and practise. [Podolski] was sick, in bed, but in full training today."

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