The tight turnaround, coupled with Monday’s bank holiday in the UK, meant Mikel Arteta undertook his pre-Aston Villa press conference duties in the aftermath of Saturday’s win against Fulham.
Having lost Thomas Partey and Alex Zinchenko during the same training session on Friday, the boss didn’t have many details about their respective fitness situations, although we know the Ghanaian had a tight right thigh while the Ukrainian had a slightly sprained knee.
While neither sounds too serious, Arteta was pessimistic about their chances of facing Villa.
“I don’t think so,” said the Spaniard when asked if they’d be available for selection.
“We still have to make another scan, especially on Thomas to see the length but I don’t think they will be available.”
He went on to confirm that Partey’s thigh problem was in a “similar area but hopefully not as bad” as the one that kept him out at the tail-end of last season.
Since that double blow, Arsenal have also been rocked by news of a “significant” injury to Mo Elneny.
The Athletic, backed by a number of other sources, claim the Egypt international is facing a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring problem during Saturday’s match. The 30-year-old played the full 90 minutes and it was only afterwards the extent of the problem was picked up.
The absence of both Partey and Elneny means Arteta will have to rejig his starting lineup. In the short term, he does have options; Granit Xhaka could resort to a position he knows well, Sambi Lokonga was originally signed to play as a 6 while more left-field solutions include Ben White and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The latter seems rather improbable given he’s expected to leave the club on Thursday but stranger things have happened.
If Zinchenko does make a recovery, Arteta considers him an option in midfield.
Asked about the summer signing’s versatility, he said: “He’s one of the options [in midfield], we can use him as an attacking midfielder, a holding midfielder.
“Of course, he’s an option, he’s played there, I think he’s really good, really comfortable playing there as well, so, it’s great to have players that can give us that versatility.”
Looking further ahead, it’s quite possible the injury news affects our plans for the remaining 48 hours of the transfer window. We may well decide that cover in midfield is more important than targeting a winger, especially with Pedro Neto’s signature looking “highly improbable”.
Terrible news after getting us so excited with the opening results. Hope they are mostly/all back for October, that’s when the difficulty and amount of the matches ramps up.
By October we will have more players injured. This season is going to be extremely demanding on the players with a world Cup jammed in the middle of the season. Expect a lot of injuries for every team that sends players to the world Cup and has Europe games too. We need to have a very big and versatile squad to deal with this problem.
This Partey injury has an ominous air to it…[gulp]…
This is coming too early in the season for comfort. 21 points were there for the taking in our 1st 6 games. I hope Zinchy and Partey can make good recovery before Sunday. We are due another three points from OT after the 20/21 season.
We can beat Villa without them.
Meanwhile incoming player(s) is now a must, no?
Arsenal doing so well, they pick up an extra 3 points for style.
I for one am deeply disappointed we only got 12 points from our first 4
21 points in 6 games would’ve been mightily impressive (*wink*)
I think we are much better suited to deal with some injuries – if these remain fairly minor (which indication is that they are) then I think we can weather this. My worry is when October comes, like you mentioned, we need the ability to keep things solid and rotate.
It’s unfortunate, but we are bound to pick up these injuries so will have to cope as best we can. The squad is stronger than it has been but it’s not, for obvious reasons, as strong or experienced as those of other clubs after the top places in the PL so we’ll have to wait and see.
I hope we do manage to strengthen the squad further in the limited time remaining in the widow. There are reports about a move for Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk. Who knows (apart from Edu/Arteta)?
Mudryk (if we can sign him before deadline) would be a wonderful acquisition. Speedy never-say-die winger who can play left or right.
Get to work, Edu!
I’d rather see us develop Marquinhos in that position (who looks more than strong and skilled enough to cope) and spend the money on a top quality midfielder.
To think we could’ve have Renato Sanches for the less than the 15m euros PSG just paid for him! We were his stated first choice…
A win against Villa and a draw at Old Trafford would be a decent return heading into the next stage of the season (European football starting).
How you score 21 points from 6 games Stephen Hawkin? 🤦
Agree with most of your comments, but 21 points from the first six games just doesn’t add up.
On a temporary basis, I think an option is starting Tomiyasu and playing Ben White in MF. White has the positioning sense, defensive skills and passing range to make this work.
Zinchenko and Ben White are both possibilities (the latter another benefit of Saliba’s play). I like White because I think Zinchenko, if fit, makes Xhaka a much better attacking player.
I would love to see Ben White try his hand at Partey’s role. I think he could be stellar there.
Would be more than happy with Zinchenko in midfield, Ben White inverting and Tierney playing his natural role on the left. Or swapped with Tomiyasu playing his normal role, Ben at CDM and Zinchenko inverting.
It’s what we got all these versatile players for.
I like the idea of Zinchenko and Tomi in the back 4 and Ben White in Midfield. Tierney is great but I think we suffered last weekend by his adjustment to play the way Arteta wants to use him (what Zinchenko provides). Xhaka and Martinelli seem to benefit so much from Zinchencko’s style
I think the effect on both Xhaka and Martinelli of Zinchenko’s presence is one of the surprises of our season so far. Both much more effective.
Don’t think we’ll be hit that badly, at least I hope we don’t. Our attack is clicking and defense looks settled. Can’t lose too many first teamers though, there are only so many who you can drill into a system and build chemistry with at one time.
This is the issue with buying versatile players instead of actual cover, everyone said we didn’t need cover for Partey because we have Zinchenko. People expecting one player to cover two positions across a whole campaign. This has a knock on effect on Tierney as well. It may be time to see what Lokonga is made of, I think the grace period is over now, he’s 23 and needs to prove himself. If we can get a player in that would be great, but it makes me doubtful we’ll get a winger in, which makes me worry for Saka. Tell… Read more »
I would be very interested in seeing Ben White there if that happens, not saying I want it, just interested.
Tomi willy Gabi tierney
White starts/Sambi sub Xhaka
Saka Jesus The smith
Too much tinkering.
Mikel won’t play White in midfield after he has impressed so much so far at RB. He’s never tried it, even in friendlies, as far as I know.
He certainly won’t randomly throw White and Sambi together in the middle of the park.
ESR in for Martinelli? More likely ESR starts the Europa game next week.
Rotation isn’t needed against Villa, as United play Thursday so have a day less recovery.
Good point maybe not White in midfield. I’d still like to see ESR though. Why not give him Villa and the Europa game? Last season he and Martinelli were even more or less. Even thoufh ESR dropped off later in season he needs games to get to his best. I don’t know that Gabi should be the nailed on starter every game. Having both of them pushing each other in that spot is important, but ESR needs to start too.
Against Villa I’d play Xhaka at #6 and ESR at #8.
I don’t want to see our defense being picked at too much. That means Ben White stays at RB for me.
I don’t think Tomiyasu at right back is a downgrade in any way (if he is match fit).
The issue at hand is very unfortunate. I feel we can now go to the market for most importantly the experience person in premier league ( Tielemmans) mostly as early as now. This is an indication that the same issue might have to happen in the future and we are going to suffer.
Unless Zinchenko was signed as a midfielder first and left back later then we should sign a midfielder. Arteta does not like Xhaka as the single pivot. In this pre season he has opted for Sambi as box to box. So, either he reverts to double pivot because all our fit midfielders are probably not suited as single pivots or he signs someone. It makes sense to fill this position before the wing because Partey being injured last season was a killer blow to our season. Repeating the same thing this season would be a big mistake.
Injuries are part of football. We just have to get on with it. If we do not have adequate cover in a key position just five games into the season we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Elneny has been pretty consistent as far as fitness is concerned but it’s not as if Partey’s injury is a surprise to anyone is it?
Getting an alternative to Partey is what I thought would have been given priority all summer. Thomas getting injured isn’t a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”. Fortunately the “when” came while we can actually do something about it So Edu over to you.
In the meantime, nothing wrong in giving Lokonga a run.
A central midfielder is a higher priority than a winger right now.
Partey seems to be extremely vulnerable to injuries – poor man must be made of biscuits.
Arteta & Edu need to do better cover for Partey should have been essential.
Amazingly though, we’re prepared to handle this sort of situation even if Zinchy is still out by slotting KT at LB, Sambi at DMF or let Xhaka come back while ESR or Vieira stays left 8. There’s even the option of Ben White in the middle and Tomi at RB.
I’m quite pleased with this team.
How ready those who come in are is however, another issue to contend with.
I’d just cross my fingers, trust Arteta with what he thinks is best, and enjoy.
Miguel Azeez is not playing for under 21 tonight. He is the closest player to partey playing style wise. Calm on the ball, can beat press and can pass the ball very.
Possibly has a loan lined up.
That also is possible
Cover in the midfield has always been more important than getting a back up for Saka IMO. TP is injury prone. Very few absences affect the speed and quality of our build up play than TP’s. ME is a worthy fall back plan but not as good. Worse still, he’s injured. I think we need to get a new no. 6 as a matter of urgency before the window closes. It’d be sad to see all the progresses, promises and momentum seen this season go to waste because of our exposure on the No. 6 position
Renato Sanches just moved from Lille (with whom we have very good relations) to PSG… for 15m euros!!! That is pocket change for an international-quality mid, and given he stated publicly that we were his first choice, cannot understand why Edu didn’t snap him up: only 25yrs old, huge engine, beast on the ball…
To think we could’ve had Renato Sanches for a max 15m euros.
CL class midfielder for small change! Can’t think why were weren’t in for him?
And he was on record as saying that Arse were his first choice – now PSG have snaffled the bargain.