Mikel Arteta says Thomas Partey faces a late fitness test to decide whether he’ll be part of Arsenal’s squad to face Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Ghana international missed Wednesday night’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City with an ill-timed thigh issue and was replaced in the starting lineup by new signing Jorginho.
Realistically, it seems unlikely former Atletico Madrid midfielder will be risked but it sounds as though the medical team will run a few tests today.
“We have to assess him again today, he had some discomfort, a little muscle discomfort. We have to assess him this morning and see how he is,” said Arteta in his pre-game press conference on Friday morning.
On the plus side, it sounds like Emile Smith Rowe is set for a return to the squad for the first time since January. The England international suffered a setback in his recovery from groin surgery but is back in full training.
“Emile will be training today, if he’s fine he’ll be in the squad. And Gabby [Jesus], he’s still not there,” confirmed the boss.
While Arteta doesn’t want his players to use the quick turnaround as an excuse, there’s no doubt that he’s irked that Arsenal were asked to play on Wednesday night ahead of an early kick-off on Saturday. All the more so, given the Premier League introduced new rules this season excluding Champions League sides from being selected in BT Sport’s usual timeslot.
“Obviously, they put the schedule the way they did it, it’s a bit unusual but it is what it is,” he said.
“The players are highly motivated for tomorrow’s game because we want to perform well and win the game.”
However, when pressed on the matter, he added: “There are certain rules with the Champions League, when you play on a Wednesday night you cannot play [the early Saturday match]. I think that should apply to any competition.
“Following the same principle, you’re talking physiologically, it’s very difficult to turn around in that period and get the best outcome and reduce the injury risk to players.”
Having played with the same starting lineup more than any other team in the league, Arteta obviously has the chance to mix things up this weekend. Leandro Trossard, for one, will be desperate for a chance to start.
On the Belgian attacker, he said: “He’s had an impact every time he’s on the field, so he’s an option.
“Every week, we consider the best possible option for players, where they are in terms of performance, mentally, physically and for sure, we’ll do that again.”