Arsenal received a double dose of positive injury news this week — both Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe have returned to training. Tomiyasu has missed several weeks with a left calf issue, picked up shortly after returning from a right calf problem. Emile Smith Rowe missed the last two matches with COVID.
Mikel Arteta expects Smith Rowe to be available for Arsenal’s clash at the Emirates against Leicester City. The Gunners’ boss hopes that a few days of training will have been enough for his leading scorer to recover a bit of his match fitness, timing, and sharpness. I doubt Smith Rowe will start against the Foxes, but I expect he’ll come off the bench should Arsenal need a second half attacking boost.
Arteta is being cautious with Tomiyasu, especially after he picked up a new calf injury so quickly after returning from his previous one. The manager said he would like to see several consecutive training sessions from the right back without any problems before he’d be available for selection. It’s obviously good news that Tomiyasu was back in training today; it means he is moving towards a return to the first team.
It would be nice to have Tomiyasu available for Liverpool at the midweek or Aston Villa next weekend because Arsenal have three matches over the next seven days. That’s a tough ask for anybody, let alone 30-year old Cedric Soares. Soares has been playing pretty well with Tomiyasu out of the lineup, but he’s had his share of injury problems this season as well.
On the other hand, keeping Tomiyasu out of the lineup for the next three matches gives him another week plus an entire two-week international break to continue to recover and regain match fitness. It also gives Arsenal (and Tomiyasu) a reason to keep him in London for Japan’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
As I said, I don’t expect Emile Smith Rowe to get the start against Leicester, but I do think he’ll be picked in the starting eleven for at least one of the other two matches this week.