Arsenal makes their return to competitive action in just about a week when they host West Ham United on Boxing Day. They’ll enter that London Derby top of the Premier League, with the visitors just a single point above the relegation zone. While Gabriel Jesus’ injury has been well documented, Mikel Arteta has a number of injury concerns to monitor as the January transfer window approaches.
Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe’s groin injury has seen him out of the Arsenal squad since the start of September. He’s made only four substitute appearances for a grand total of 47 minutes this season. And based on Arteta's comments it doesn’t sound as if he will be ready for Boxing Day.
“[Emile] hasn’t been able to train in the last few days but hopefully he can start [to train] next week. He’s been out for a while now - he needs some time to get back to speed. We really need him and we’re going to welcome him with both arms, because he’s a really important player for us. We need him fit on the pitch.”
With Gabriel Jesus out, and now possibly, Reiss Nelson, Smith Rowe’s return to at least feature as a substitute will be critical during the holiday fixtures.
Alex has been recovering from a calf injury and hasn’t played in any of the club’s three friendlies. Mikel Arteta stated, “Alex is progressing well”. Zinchenko’s issue seems minor and his exclusion from the World Cup break matches was probably mostly a precaution. Unless he suffers a setback he should be in contention to start against West Ham.
Nelson got the start on the left side of the attack during Saturday’s friendly against Juventus. However, in the 21st minute, he had to exit after picking up an early injury. In the presser, Arteta stated “We don’t know the extent of the injury. The fact he had to leave the pitch immediately is not good news, especially someone like Reiss, who is really powerful and fast.” While a January attacker is on the way in, a lengthy injury to Nelson would likely see Marquinhos on the bench more often.
Tomiyasu played three times at the World Cup, including 120+ minutes against Croatia in the Round of 16. He returned to Arsenal with a slight hamstring injury and did not feature in the squad against Juventus. On Takehiro, Arteta noted, “Tomi is running on the pitch.” It sounds like he will, or could, be available for the West Ham match if needed. Given Ben White’s early return and Cedric, Arsenal would be covered if Tomiyasu required more time.
In addition to those players, Albert Sambi Lokonga also missed the last match after picking up a minor foot injury. However, given Arteta didn’t comment on him the assumption at the moment is that he will be fit for the Boxing Day match.