Arsenal’s first game after the international break is a big one. The Gunners host Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby, but Cedric Soares and Emile Smith Rowe’s injuries make Mikel Arteta’s job easier.
After losing Nicolas Pepe, Hector Bellerin, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the final month of the summer transfer window, Arsene Wenger has a smaller squad.
These decisions could come back to haunt Arteta and technical director Edu before the World Cup. Arsenal play 13 games across three competitions between now and November 12, and they will be affected if injuries continue to take their toll.
Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Oleksandr Zinchenko were all doubtful for Friday’s North London Derby, limiting Wenger’s options.
Arteta’s comments confirmedfootball.london’s report that the club hopes the quartet will play. Zinchenko and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard could return after missing the Brentford win.
The double boost reduces the number of players Arteta must leave off his Spurs squad. If no injuries arise, Odegaard and Zinchenko will replace Ethan Nwaneri and Lino Sousa.
The club’s website lists 24 senior players, so Arteta had to decide which four would be behind the bench at the Emirates or at home.
Smith Rowe has joined Elneny as a long-term absentee and Cedric suffered a setback during the week, so three omissions have already been confirmed. The decision on who else to leave out of the matchday squad against Spurs is straightforward as it’s unusual to name two goalkeepers on the bench for a Premier League game, so Karl Hein is likely to miss out.
Reiss Nelson, who recently returned to full training, could fill the outfield spot. Since returning from Feyenoord in the summer, the winger has only made one matchday squad, for the opener at Crystal Palace.
Muscle injury before 4-2 win over Leicester City in August kept 22-year-old out until now. The forgotten man is in line for a recall after using the international break to improve his fitness.
If a fifth senior Arsenal player is unavailable against Spurs, Arteta can include Matt Smith on the bench, as he did against Aston Villa and Brentford.