The timing of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will have an impact on Arsenal, along with many other clubs in the Premier League and throughout Europe.
The squad announcements over the past few days have revealed which senior players Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be without for what could be up to six weeks at the best. The tournament is set to begin on Sunday afternoon with the host nation taking on Ecuador.
As expected, a number of first-team Arsenal players will travel to Qatar this week with their respective national teams, including Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Benjamin White, William Saliba, Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, and Takehiro Tomiyasu.
The rest of the senior team will spend a brief period in England before departing for Dubai at the beginning of next month for a warm-weather training camp with friendlies against Lyon on December 8 and AC Milan five days later, subject to confirmation, even though they have hopes of winning football’s top honor.
Any Arsenal player who advances to the round of 16 won’t be able to meet up with the rest of the team in Dubai for the start of the training camp because the World Cup knockout stage starts on December 3.
Because there is a scenario where all 10 expected representatives of the north London outfit in Qatar all advance from their respective groups, it means manager Mikel Arteta can look to the club’s academy to beef up the squad and cover for any absentees whilst out in Dubai.
Although, it should be pointed out that as Arsenal’s U21s and U18s will be in action during the World Cup break, it could be that it limits the number of youngsters that can be called up by the Spaniard to avoid disrupting Mehmet Ali and Jack Wilshere’s plans too much.
With that in mind, football.london takes a look at the Arsenal wonderkids – and a returning senior star – that could be named in the Dubai training camp squad.
With both Aaron Ramsdale and Matt Turner called up by England and USMNT respectively, it means Karl Hein will effectively be the senior Arsenal goalkeeper in Dubai if the aforementioned pair are successful in progressing from the same World Cup group that also contains Iran and Wales.
If that’s the case then James Hillson and Hubert Graczyk are the two names that immediately spring to mind.
There’s an opening at right-back most likely for Reuell Walters, who was part of the first-team squad for two overseas tours during pre-season, with White and Tomiyasu at the World Cup. The highly-rated Arsenal youngster can provide competition to Cedric Soares who is not in Portugal’s plans.
Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding are the senior central defenders not going to the World Cup so Zach Awe and Taylor Foran – both of whom have trained with the first-team on several occasions already this season – could be in line to make an appearance in one of the planned friendlies.
An area where Arsenal haven’t been too badly affected by World Cup call-ups in terms of numbers as captain Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny can all be part of the Dubai training camp.
In addition, if things go to plan Emile Smith Rowe could be involved. The attacking midfielder has been sidelined since the end of September after undergoing groin surgery and an official club statement has already revealed the hope is that he can make a return to full training in December.
Whether the Dubai camp comes too soon for the 22-year-old remains to be seen, but there are several academy midfielders pushing for inclusion. Based on who has made a senior matchday squad this season, all signs point towards Matt Smith and Catalin Cirjan making the trip.
With Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Marquinhos all available for the Dubai training camp, Khayon Edwards could be in line to replace Gabriel Jesus once again especially as the Arsenal number 9 is expected to go far with Brazil at the World Cup.
Out wide, it could be between Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Charles Sagoe Jr or Amario Cozier-Duberry to provide cover for Gabriel Martinelli as all three have trained with the first-team this season, with the latter an unused substitute against FC Zurich on matchday one in the Europa League group stage.