Dutch striker Robin van Persie will give Arsenal's title ambitions a timely boost when he returns against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.
Van Persie, out for five months after rupturing ankle ligaments on international duty, is likely to start from the bench in a match which could see the Gunners leapfrog Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League table.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who lost William Gallas for the season when he came back too soon in the Champions League first leg against Barcelona, said: "There is always a gamble in this kind of decision. But in his (Van Persie's) case we have been a bit more cautious because he has had more time for preparation."
He added: "The biggest gamble I took recently was with Gallas. It didn't work, but he came back from a muscular problem, that is not the case for Robin. It was a joint problem.
"When I pick a player it means he is fit and sharp and has worked very hard. Of course he lacks match-practice but physically he is ready, he is fit."
Wenger believes Arsenal's title challenge would be several points better off but for Van Persie's injury.
"He is a very important player for this club," said Wenger.
"He is important for the confidence. He can make the final ball, he is good on set-pieces, he can score goals, so we are very happy to have him back. The sadness was that we lost him so early in the season."