Arsenal need to get back to winning ways when we take on Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon. Here is the latest team news ahead of the game….
Let’s start with the bad news and it sounds like Kieran Tierney won’t be available again this weekend. The Scottish international has missed Arsenal’s last three matches with a calf strain and Mikel Arteta said after the defeat to Wolves on Tuesday night that Tierney ‘wasn’t close at all’ to playing at Molineux – which was concerning news to hear.
The boss has provided another update at his press conference today and Arteta says the club are trying to manage Tierney carefully so he can be back as soon as possible. But there was no indication the left-back was close to returning to training, let alone playing again, so I think it’s safe to say Tierney won’t be available against Villa.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to action with a 10 minute run out on Tuesday. The skipper hadn’t trained for 10 days after being forced to quarantine so was only named on the bench against Wolves. Auba will have gotten a few more days training under his belt ahead of the trip to Villa so hopefully he can prove he’s ready to start this weekend.
Arsenal could have a real problem in goal as Mat Ryan is struggling for fitness. Our January signing missed the Wolves game with a hip issue and hasn’t been training in recent days so he remains a doubt for the Villa game. If Ryan is ruled out, Alex Runarsson will have to start [gulp].
Arteta told Arsenal.com:
on Mat Ryan’s fitness…
He has not been available to train yet, and Alex is available, so we will have the choice between the two of them for the weekend. If Mat is able to train, and they are both fit, we will have a decision to make. If Mat is not fit, obviously Alex will be in goal.
on Aubameyang being available…
Well he is available, he played a few minutes after 10 days of not doing much and hopefully in the next two days he feels good and he is available to contribute to the team.
on whether he’s having to manage Kieran Tierney carefully…
No, it’s a different injury in this case. Kieran is a player that really pushes himself and he has to be able to perform physically at his best because he cannot help himself. Even in training he can’t help himself. We are trying to manage him in the best possible way and find every possibility to give him the best chance to be fit as soon as possible, and we are here to support him as much as we can.
Another player who could miss the trip to Villa is David Luiz after he was controversially sent off on Tuesday night. We’ve appealed the red card and should find out the decision today but I’m not hopeful it will be overturned. The FA rarely go back on these decisions.
Bernd Leno is certain to miss out on Saturday after he was also sent off against Wolves for handling outside the box so let’s hope Ryan is passed fit to make his debut. Surely he has to be better than Runarsson?!
So if Ryan is out and Luiz’s appeal is rejected, Arsenal will be without four players for the trip to Villa as we look to get back to winning ways following the frustrating defeat at Molineux.