LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal's France striker Olivier Giroud could return for their Premier League clash with Manchester United on Saturday after recovering from a broken leg nearly a month ahead of schedule.
Giroud, 28, broke his left tibia in the closing seconds of Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Everton on Aug. 23, moments after scoring a 90th minute goal that secured a point for the Gunners.
"He is three or four weeks ahead of schedule," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told a news conference on Thursday.
"Originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year. So he's one month ahead."
Giroud played in the opening four games of the season, including the Community Shield curtain-raiser against Manchester City at Wembley where he scored Arsenal's third goal in their 3-0 win over the Premier League champions.
He then came on as a second half substitute in the opening league game against Crystal Palace and played the full match in the Champions League playoff first leg against Besiktas before being injured against Everton.
Arsenal reacted to the loss of the Frenchman by buying Danny Welbeck from United on the closing day of the transfer window and he has scored five times, although only two of those goals have been in the Premier League.
Welbeck is expected to face United on Saturday for the first time since leaving the Old Trafford club.
Wenger also confirmed that 32-year-old midfielder Mikel Arteta, who pulled a hamstring in the 3-3 Champions League draw with Anderlecht on Nov. 4, is ready to return after missing the 2-1 Premier League defeat at Swansea City five days later.
"It's just a question of how ready they are, but they are available," Wenger was quoted as saying on the club's official website (www.arsenal.com).
Reporting by Mike Collett; Editring by Ken Ferris