Arsenal hope to welcome back captain Cesc Fabregas for the visit of Birmingham on Saturday as the Gunners look for their first Premier League victory for more than a month.
Since Fabregas suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland on September 18, Arsene Wenger’s side have been beaten at home by West Bromwich Albion and then at Chelsea to fall seven points behind the leaders.
But the Spain midfielder has resumed training ahead of the Emirates Stadium clash to give a major boost to Wenger, who is also hopeful of including England winger Theo Walcott and Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner after their lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Fabregas this week pronounced himself content at Arsenal for the moment following his failed attempt to join Barcelona in the close-season and likened Wenger to a father figure.
But the 23-year-old also warned that the Gunners must develop a more ruthless streak to end their five-year trophy drought.
“A winning mentality is missing,” he said.
“I’m very comfortable here, I like the club, lead the team and play football but we need to start winning titles because we have a wealth of quality.”
After losing 3-2 at home to West Brom last month, Arsenal look more vulnerable than usual at home and Jack Wilshere, the Gunners’ 18-year-old England international, expects Birmingham to adopt similar counter-attacking tactics.
“Teams come to Arsenal and hope to catch us on the counter-attack,” he said.
“It worked that day and we have to learn from that.
We have to show we can deal with that and get a result on Saturday.
“It was just one of those days where we started slowly and got punished.”
Liam Ridgewell, the Birmingham defender, admitted that Albion’s success at Arsenal has given his team confidence they can get a positive result in north London.
“West Brom went there and got a good result so it might be a good time to play them,” he said.
“We’ll go there with high spirits and good confidence.
“We have to pick up points and a win somewhere, so why not it be Arsenal?
Everyone looked at the West Brom result and was surprised, but if they can do it then everyone is going to take positives from that.”
Birmingham, who may include former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb in their line-up, are finding life much harder this season after surprising many last term.
Alex McLeish’s side are fifth from bottom and without a Premier League win since August 21.
“Everybody is looking to last season and how well we did,” Ridgewell added.
“We want to get that sort of form back and take it into this season.
“It just hasn’t kicked on for us at the minute, but if you look at last season we were probably in a similar position.
So if we can get a run together then nobody will be complaining.”
Arsenal v Birmingham City, BoltonmWanderers v Stoke City
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur,
Manchester United v West Bromwich, Albion, Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic,
Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United, Aston Villa v Chelsea
Everton v Liverpool, Blackpool v Manchester City
Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland