Sunday, October 1, 2023

Arsenal guaranteed to be without four players for Premier League clash against Brentford
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Mikel Arteta will avoid a few difficult calls when it comes to naming his Arsenal matchday squad for the Premier League clash against Brentford on Sunday afternoon.

Mikel Arteta’s task has been made easier as Arsenal return to Premier League action this afternoon against Brentford away from home.

Following a busy final month in the summer transfer window, well, in terms of outgoings for the Gunners, the number of first-team players available to the Spaniard since before the opening day win over Crystal Palace has significantly reduced with the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all departing.

Those decisions could come back to haunt Arteta and technical director Edu in the next month or so. The Arsenal squad is now a little light in some areas, and the manager’s options might be stretched even further against Brentford with Oleksandr Zinchenko emerging as an injury doubt.

However, the good news is that Thomas Partey was in full training on Friday and Ben White is fit amid fears he wasn’t named in the England Nations League squad Gareth Southgate because of a hip/knee injury complaint, so the pair should be in contention to face the Bees.

As a result, the Ghana international’s potential return will reduce the number of players Arteta must leave behind when naming a 20-man squad for a short trip to West London. In fact, if he is available for selection, it means one player who was involved against Manchester United a fortnight ago may have to make way for the defensive midfielder.

Going by the club’s official website, the north London outfit have 24 senior players listed, which means regardless of the injury situation, Arteta was always going to have to make a decision on which four first-team stars would be cheering on their teammates from home.

But with Mohamed Elneny a long-term absentee, Emile Smith Rowe ruled out with a groin injury and the game coming too soon for Reiss Nelson and Cedric Soares, the decision on who to leave out of the matchday squad against Brentford has already been made for Arteta.

With that said, Zinchenko could be added to the list. Despite the Ukraine national team ruling the versatile defender out for two weeks with a calf muscle problem, when speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, Arteta didn’t confirm this would be the case.

“Again, we have to wait until tomorrow to make that decision,” the Spaniard said. “Where he was at that moment and what we have decided to do for the international week doesn’t mean that we will decide the same for the weekend. So it’s something we will address tomorrow.”

If Zinchenko happens to be the fifth Arsenal senior player unavailable for selection against Brentford. Then Arteta can either include Matt Smith on the bench once again or temporarily promote academy starlet Lino Sousa who offers more of a natural option at left-back.

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