Mikel Arteta was typically guarded when asked for an update on the fitness of specific players ahead of the north London derby although he did sound relatively optimistic overall.
Many of the Spaniard’s squad have spent a portion of the last two weeks away on international duty and two – Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney – returned to London earlier than expected with questions over their fitness. The Ghanaian experienced discomfort in his knee while the Scot took a blow to the head in his country’s win over Ireland.
With Oleksandr Zinchenko not meeting up with Ukraine due to a calf problem and Takehiro Tomiyasu also returning from Japan duty prematurely, there are lots of question marks as to who will and won’t make tomorrow’s squad.
In his pre-game press conference, Arteta said: “We’ve just finished the last training session. Obviously, we had many players arriving yesterday so we had a short period to prepare the match but the boys look in good condition.”
Pressed on whether Partey, Zinchenko and Tierney would be in the squad, Arteta, cryptically, said, “They are part of the team.” Interpret that how you will.
Yesterday, Antonio Conte had been similarly coy on the fitness of his players with Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies and Dejan Kulusevski all thought to be doubts.
Asked about Scotland’s decision to release Tierney early, and whether it was down to good lines of communication between the respective medical teams at Arsenal and Scotland, the boss continued:
“I think what we all want is the best for the player, protect the welfare of the player, for sure, have the player in the right mindset, have the player ready physically to play for the country and play for the club. The best way to do it is to have good communication and it’s honest and transparent. With Scotland that’s the case, for sure.”
Spurs’ visit to the Emirates marks the start of a crazy nine-game run in the month of October. The Gunners face five matches in the Premier League and four in Europe in what will be a real test for the players’ legs.
On how he plans to manage their minutes, Arteta said: “You have to go game by game and then form, performances, how players are physically and mentally, will dictate how much we use them but for sure, we’re going to need everybody as the schedule is hectic and very demanding. We need to think carefully about how we’re going to use and load the players.”