Last week Arsene Wenger said he’d give Mikel Arteta a couple of run outs for the under-21s before reintroducing him to full first team action.
Today the Spaniard, who has repeatedly been sidelined this season by a recurring calf problem and hasn’t played since limping off against West Brom in November, stepped out for Steve Gatting’s young Gunners at London Colney as they beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2.
Arteta, who still has lovely, lovely hair, appears to have come through his 45 minute cameo unscathed as a Jeff Reine-Adelaide brace and Donyell Malen’s strike gave Arsenal a 3-0 advantage. The visitors reduced the deficit with two late goals from Lewis Mansell but couldn’t find an equaliser, despite a frantic finish.
With first teamers, including Mesut Ozil, set to be rested for the weekend’s FA Cup 3rd round tie with Sunderland it’ll be interesting to see if Arteta is called upon by Wenger
Perhaps his inclusion in the squad will be dictated by the speed with which the club can tie up a deal for Mohamed Elneny.
The Egyptian midfielder is due in London to finalise his move to the Emirates – FC Basle confirmed he missed training today to complete his exit – and will provide welcome cover for the injured Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.