A quartet of positive injury news for Arsenal: Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Martinelli, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Mohamed Elneny are all expected to join the Gunners preseason preparations at some point. At the most basic level, having healthy players is a good thing when compared to having guys out with injury. Recall Fabio Vieira — the midfielder missed all of preseason with a foot injury and struggled to get up to speed, especially in the first half of the season.
The current group of injured players aren’t faced with the exact same challenge as Vieira, they’re all returning to a team rather than integrating into a new one, but their availability for preseason is a plus. I’d expect Mikel Arteta to introduce new tactical wrinkles for the upcoming season, and the best time to work on those is in the preseason. There will undoubtedly be new faces at the club this summer too, and all those July and August training sessions give everyone a chance to learn each other’s tendencies.
Zinchenko’s calf injury was initially reported as a minor one and was likely never going to force him to miss preseason. It was just significant enough to shut him down for the final few games of the season. I suspect that had there been anything to play for, he might have tried to gut it out, but with nothing on the line, there was no reason to risk further injury. Zinchenko had a bit of an injury-filled season and given his unique role in the setup, having him fully healthy heading into next season is critically important.
The same can be said for Gabriel Martinelli. His ankle injury was more significant than Zinchenko’s problem, but it was immediately reported that he’d be available for preseason. With more rotation expected next season, it’ll be important for the Arsenal attackers to get reps with each other in all the different, likely combinations in which they’ll be deployed.
The injury news is an unexpected plus for Tomiyasu and Elneny. Both needed surgery to repair serious knee injuries. It’s thought that Tomiyasu tore his MCL, which requires about three months of rehab. Elneny’s was likely an ACL tear, which has a 6-12 month recovery timeline. Both have been pictured back in the weight room, working to get back to fitness.
We know the deal with Mohamed Elneny. Arsenal extended his contract by a year at reduced wages to give him the opportunity to rehab at the club ahead of what will almost certainly be a free transfer next summer. He may feature in the Carabao and FA Cup this season, but his role and playing time this season should be minimal.
Tomiyasu is another story. He had a fantastic first season with the club in ‘21-’22. He was among the signings of the summer, for me. This season was derailed by injuries and Ben White’s emergence as the preferred right back, which cut Tomiyasu’s Premier League minutes by 2/3rds what it was prior campaign. I think Tomiyasu still has a part to play at Arsenal. He’s a fantastic 1-v-1 defender, strong in the air, and can cover at RCB. At the very least, he can give White, who started 36 Premier League matches and featured in all 38, a break. But I think it’ll be more than that, in some sort of new role / wrinkle in the formation. What that is, I’m not sure. But Tomiyasu is too good of a player to languish on the bench.
There hasn’t been a recent update on William Saliba’s back injury. My sense was that it was the type of injury that would take time to heal and that Saliba was healing particularly slowly. In trying to read between the lines of the reports, I didn’t ever get the sense that the club were concerned it would be a long-term, recurring issue. Just that they needed to be patient and let him heal.
Team health seems like such a simple thing, but it’s important, especially heading into training camp. It allows Mikel Arteta to focus on putting systems in place for the upcoming season instead of rehabilitative fitness. Let’s hope the Gunners stay healthy.