Mikel Arteta says he’s unsure if Granit Xhaka, Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu will be available for Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg with Liverpool.
All three were sorely missed as Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Nottingham Forest this evening.
The Switzerland international was sidelined by Covid-19 – the second time he’s contracted the virus since September – while the other two were rested as a precaution because of groin (ESR) and calf (TT) issues respectively.
“I don’t know,” said Arteta when asked if Xhaka is likely to be out of isolation come the next game. “It will depend on the next few games and how he’s feeling.”
On Smith Rowe and Tomiyasu, he was similarly in the dark.
“Again, it depends,” said the boss. “They were injured and they couldn’t play. Gabi [Magalhaes] was suspended. I’ll have to see in the next few days how they were.”
Speaking on Friday, Arteta made clear that Arsenal were in the market to strengthen the squad this month, especially having been left exposed by the departure of four players to the African Cup of Nations.
Given the situation, it was a little surprising that Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ loan move to AS Roma was sanctioned so early. The England international made his debut for the Serie A side in a 4-3 defeat to Juventus this evening, but could easily have been included for the trip to the Forest Ground.
Arteta seemed to suggest it wasn’t quite so simple. “That decision was made for many different reasons,” he explained when pressed on the timing.
Whether Arsenal can recruit players in time for the double-header with Liverpool and Sunday’s north London derby remains to be seen. It’s a huge 10 days ahead.
“I want to try to get the best out of the players we have,” said Arteta. “It’s clear where we need to strengthen but at the moment it’s what we have and what we have has to play.”