Mikel Arteta to make Albert Sambi Lokonga decision after Arsenal suffer Thomas Partey setback – Football.London

Arsenal are reportedly set to be without Thomas Partey for their opening day trip to Brentford after he suffered an ankle injury in the Gunners’ pre-season friendly against Chelsea on Sunday.

The Ghanaian sustained the problem following a strong challenge from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and had to be replaced by Granit Xhaka just before half-time.

Arsenal writer Kaya Kaynak gave an update on the 28-year-old’s situation in a Facebook Live on Wednesday afternoon and admits that the issue might not be as bad as first thought.

He said: “It looked really bad after the Chelsea game; I think he was pretty worried and I think Arteta himself was too.

“We saw in the Tottenham match when he limped off that he will play through the pain barrier to get on the pitch and help Arsenal when he can.

“He couldn’t continue which is a sign of how bad that injury could have been. But we believe that it isn’t as bad as first thought, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to make that Brentford game next week.”

Partey’s injury means that Mikel Arteta will have a selection dilemma on his hands as to who will start in that midfield-two birth if he opts to start with his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation.

Arsenal have been linked with a potential move for Lille’s Renato Sanches and Houssem Aouar this summer but either of those deals are unlikely to happen anytime soon, as they look to strengthen in other areas.

This could provide an opportunity for Albert Sambi Lokonga to make his Premier League debut alongside Xhaka and that’s what Kaynak believes will happen in the game against the Bees.

“It’s a real shame that Partey is out because he was so good in pre-season and was fantastic throughout the friendlies,” he continued.

“I think he was one of Arsenal’s best players, but I’d put Sambi Lokonga in second who has been fantastic. He has been a great signing and is a very similar player to Partey with that passing range and ability to receive the ball deep and turn, which some Arsenal players are not quite as confident in doing.

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“We’ve seen Mohamed Elneny be a little bit shaky playing out from the back at times. Xhaka looks like he’ll be staying now, so I would assume on that Brentford game, we’ll see a midfield two of Xhaka and Lokonga in the league opener.

“However, things may have changed by then. Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles might have left the club or they could still be involved and of course there’s Elneny as well.”

The Gunners have one more friendly before their league opener when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur this weekend and it also gives the Arteta one last opportunity to fine tune his side and look at who should start in midfield at Brentford.

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