Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will make a late decision on Takehiro Tomiyasu’s involvement at Luton after the player went off on Saturday with a calf problem.
The defender was sent for a scan on Sunday and the manager is hopeful, as was the case after the game, that he was merely experiencing fatigue rather than a serious muscle problem.
“We will wait and see if it’s useful to use him or not,” said Arteta in his pre-game press conference on Tuesday.
“We will decide tomorrow. He’s a strong boy and hopefully he’ll be fine.”
If the club decide not to risk Tomiyasu, which seems likely, then Ben White, who was also struggling with an injury before the recent Interlull, is also available to play. The 26-year-old came on against Wolves and will be hoping to start his first game since the defeat to Newcastle nearly a month ago.
“After the injury and the way we decided to manage his loads, he’s feeling perfect, back to fitness,” reported Arteta. “He played some minutes so he’s in a good place.”
The boss was also quick to defend Oleksandr Zinchenko after the Ukraine international came in for criticism for the mistake that led to Wolves’ late goal at the weekend. Rather than dwell on the defender’s latest slip-up, he accentuated the positives.
“He created so many chances as well, he provided a goal,” said the Spaniard. “This is part of football, we all make mistakes and it’s not only about that, it’s about how you react on top of that and there are other things that happen after that that can be done better as well.”
Arsenal have won none, drawn six and lost four of the last 10 trips to Kenilworth Road in all competitions.#LUTARS
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) December 4, 2023
Arsenal haven’t played Luton since 1991 but will be mindful of a terrible record at Kenilworth Road. We’ve drawn six and lost four of our last 10 visits, albeit with the mitigating factor that the majority of those were played on a terrible astroturf pitch.
While the plastic pitch may have gone, Luton’s tight ground is a real throwback that under the lights will house an intimidating atmosphere.
Arteta, who never faced Luton as a player, hopes his players are looking forward to the occasion.
He said: “I would say it’s an inspiring place. I think what they’ve done is remarkable. What [manager] Rob [Edwards] did with the team last year, the way they did it, what they transmit as a team.
“We are neighbours, always very close from here, it’s just an amazing story and they fully deserve all the credit they are getting from last year and as well the way they are playing this year, the results that they got, how close the games have been that they’ve played, they’ve been extremely close. Tomorrow we’re going to have a really intense and difficult match.”
He added: “It’s incredible the way they’ve done it with the infrastructure that they had. I think it’s a leading example for any club in the Premier League and gives hope to any club that they are able to do something extraordinary like this. So it’s a beautiful story.”