There is good news and bad news on the Arsenal team news front for the clash with Chelsea this weekend.
Mikel Arteta held his pre-match press conference on Friday morning ahead of the London derby with the Blues on Sunday and gave an update on the situations of a number of players, for whom there are question marks about their availability.
And the good news is that club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in line for a return after missing the Gunners’ opening game of the 2021/22 campaign, which got off to the worst possible start last Friday night as they were beaten 2-0 by newly-promoted Brentford.
His possible availability could increase manager Mikel Arteta’s options in attack as the Spaniard looks to avenge a defeat to Chelsea from earlier in the month.
Thomas Tuchel’s side won at the Emirates Stadium, albeit a pre-season friendly, and have started the season strongly with wins over Villarreal – to claim the UEFA Super Cup – and Crystal Palace.
Although, Arsenal have won the last three competitive meetings between the two sides, including a 3-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season that kick-started an up-turn in form.
Arteta will be hopeful of extending that impressive record on Sunday, but the Spaniard does have some concerning injury troubles to contend with ahead of the big game.
With that said, here is a round-up of all the very latest Gunners injury news and expected return dates.
Prior to kick-off against Brentford, Arteta suffered a double blow with both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette being ruled out of the game at the Brentford Community Stadium.
The reason for their absences were initially put down to illness, with Arteta later revealing that the duo had tested positive for Covid-19.
“[Aubameyang and Lacazette] feel unwell, that’s all I can say. Instead of thinking of excuses, we think of solutions so that’s what we will do today,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
football.london then reported that Aubameyang and Lacazette were doubtful for the visit of Chelsea.
Arsenal have since confirmed that the 32-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 which kept him out of the trip to west London and that he will return to training this week and could be available for selection.
“Auba tested positive for Covid-19 and was unavailable for last Friday’s match at Brentford,” a statement reads. “Auba is now negative on Covid-19 testing, is well and following all protocols for return to play. He will return to training and be assessed prior to Sunday’s match.”
Arteta said of Aubameyang on Friday: “I don’t know if they’re going to be able to train a few hours or compete at the weekend. I don’t know.
“Auba had a training session yesterday.”
While there is hope that Aubameyang will be available to play, it does not look like Lacazette will join him on the pitch.
“Alex tested positive for Covid-19 and was unavailable for last Friday’s match at Brentford. Alex is still recovering and will not be available for Sunday’s match,” the statement said.
Arteta went on to say: “Well they had some tough days to be fair. Laca still hasn’t trained so he’s not been really good.”
Willian and Alex Runarsson have also tested positive for Covid-19 and the latter will not be available to face Chelsea.
Saka was one of the shining stars of England’s run to the Euro 2020 final and he is lacking match fitness as a result of that extended international break.
He did, however, come off the bench to face Brentford on Friday night in the opening game of the season, playing for the last half an hour.
But there are concerns the 19-year-old may not be ready to play on Sunday.
Arteta said: “Let’s see how he is. He felt good after the match the other day. He’s still lacking some fitness so we’ll see in the days ahead.”
Ironically, the 28-year-old limped off during the Gunners’ 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat by Chelsea at the beginning of the month.
However, while the injury is not too serious, Partey is set to miss the Blues’ return to north London, the Carabao Cup tie against West Brom and is a doubt to face Manchester City at the end of the month.
Ahead of the Brentford clash, Arsenal issued an update on the Ghana international.
A club statement read: “Right ankle. Thomas sustained an injury to ligaments in his right ankle during the friendly match against Chelsea on August 1.
“Thomas continues to be assessed and is expected to be back in training by the end of August.”
One can safely assume that unless the midfielder gets a few training sessions under his belt ahead of the Man City game on August 28, it won’t be until after the international break when he will return to action.
It has also been confirmed that Nketiah is facing up to a month on the sidelines with an ankle problem of his own.
“Eddie sustained bruising to his right ankle during the friendly match against Chelsea last Sunday,” the statement continued. “Eddie continues to be assessed and is expected to be back in training in approximately four weeks.”
The striker, who has been linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, will be targeting a return to action after the international break.
There is some good news on Gabriel who has been suffering with a knee injury that kept him out of the summer Olympic Games.
“Right knee. Gabriel sustained an injury to his right knee whilst with the Brazilian Olympic Squad. Gabriel is progressing well with the medical team and is aiming to be back in training later this month.”
As a result, the Brazilian will miss games against Chelsea, West Brom in the Carabao Cup and Man City.
Although, if Gabriel does return to training early next month he could be in contention to face Norwich City in Arsenal’s first game after the international break.
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Sead Kolasinac was not included in the matchday squad for the clash against the Bees, but did train ahead of the game, so it would appear this was just a decision taken by Arteta.
Meanwhile, Folarin Balogun, Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers were substituted in the second half.
Although, they were tactical-related changes and should all be in contention for the big game against the Blues.