Martin Ødegaard was “was unable to report for training on Thursday” according to Charles Watts and know we know why: Arsenal announced the midfielder has tested positive for COVID-19. With a required isolation period of at least 5 days, it’s extremely unlikely that Ødegaard will be available for the North London Derby on Sunday. Without knowing which day he tested positive, it’s impossible to know whether he might be able to complete his isolation in time, but the day-counting doesn’t look good.
Ødegaard’s absence is a big blow for an already thin Arsenal lineup ahead of what will likely be the most important game of the season. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if one of the sides wins on Sunday, they’ll finish the season ahead of the other; proverbial “6-point games” are massive.
His absence makes Emile Smith Rowe’s fitness an even bigger issue. Arsenal’s #10 missed the FA Cup tie at the weekend and is missing the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal with a groin problem. With ESR available, the starting lineup for the Gunners would be pretty much the same as it has been the entire season (minus Thomas Partey at AFCON). Without him, however, things look pretty dicey with Eddie Nketiah likely forced into the starting lineup and a dearth of attacking options off the bench.
Yikes. Arsenal are not in a great spot player availability-wise.