Arsenal’s one major injury casualty ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Leicester City has been confirmed, with Reiss Nelson ruled out.
The winger, who was an unused substitute in the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Crystal Palace last week, will be sidelined for the visit of the Foxes with a muscular problem: “He felt something in training, we scanned him, and the doctor came with bad news,” Mikel Arteta revealed in his pre-match press conference. “It’s a muscular injury, and hopefully, he will be back soon.”
Whilst Nelson will certainly miss Saturday’s game at the Emirates Stadium. It hasn’t been disclosed how long he will be out of action: “Not yet,” the Arsenal manager added when asked for a timeframe regarding a return. “They need to do another test, and hopefully, next week, we’ll have more information.”
As mentioned above, the 22-year-old was on the bench against Palace, so, therefore, he needs to be replaced in the matchday squad for the visit of Leicester and luckily for Arteta, following some shrewd business in the summer transfer window coupled with players returning from injury, he does have plenty of options.
Considering Nelson operates on either flank, the Arsenal manager may look to replace the England U21 international in the squad with a natural wide player, which leaves Emile Smith Rowe and Marquinhos as the most likely candidates – assuming Nicolas Pepe keeps his place amongst the substitutes.
However, as the Brazilian youngster was not spotted in Friday’s training session at London Colney with the rest of the first-team squad, a clear indication with regards to his potential involvement against Leicester was to be provided later in the evening with the U21s in action against their West Ham United counterparts.
As it turns out, Marquinhos has been handed another run-out for Mehmet Ali’s side, and this can be taken as a clear hint that he won’t be in contention to face the Foxes, thus leaving the door open for Smith Rowe to replace his fellow Hale End graduate in the matchday squad.
Alternatively, Arteta could turn to another summer signing in Fabio Vieira. Despite being recruited to help bolster the Gunners’ creativity in the middle of the park, the Portugal U21 international is also capable of operating as an inverted winger on the right, so he could get the call-up.
With that said, there’s no guarantee Smith Rowe or Vieira will be included, even though they have taken part in full training sessions this week. Arteta did hint at taking a cautious approach with the pair as well as defender Takehiro Tomiyasu after they barely featured, if at all, during pre-season.
“They’ve been reintegrated into training this week, all of them,” Arteta said in his pre-match press conference when asked for an update on the trio who missed the win over Crystal Palace last week. “They are in different phases, but some of them will be in the squad tomorrow.”