Granit Xhaka hopeful of Arsenal return against Everton

Tom Gott
Xhaka is close to a return
Xhaka is close to a return / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is back in full training and could make his Premier League return against Everton on Monday.

The Swiss midfielder picked up a nasty knee injury late in September and was initially expected to miss the remainder of 2021, while the aim was for him to simply be fit enough to train early in the new year.

However, Arsenal's latest fitness update revealed that Xhaka has made 'excellent progress' and the club's medical staff have cleared him for a return to full-contact action.

The 29-year-old is not yet a certainty to feature in Monday's game and will have to prove his fitness in the build-up, but the fact that he is already in consideration for a spot on the team is an enormous boost to manager Mikel Arteta, who was expecting to be without Xhaka for the hectic winter schedule.

Should he be passed fit, Xhaka would almost certainly take a spot on the bench, with Thomas Partey set to start alongside one of Albert Sambi Lokonga or Mohamed Elneny.

Arsenal's medical staff will have their work cut out for them ahead of the Everton game as fitness tests will also need to be conducted for midfielder Emile Smith Rowe and goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Smith Rowe came off with 20 minutes to go in Arsenal's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Thursday after complaining of pain in his groin and he has yet to be passed fit for the match.

As for Leno, he also injured his groin during training and may miss out on this one as well. Academy goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo took his place on the bench against United and may well keep it on Monday, with Aaron Ramsdale set to start.

Arsenal head into the Everton game down in seventh in the Premier League, but they can climb as high as fifth with a victory.