Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be sweating over the fitness of a handful of key players prior to Saturday’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth.
The Gunners overcame Brentford 1-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, where Declan Rice (back) and Bukayo Saka (calf) both missed out with injuries sustained in the North London derby last weekend.
Neither man should spend too long on the sidelines, but with a Champions League showdown with Lens to come next week, Arteta may encase them in bubble wrap alongside Leandro Trossard (thigh), Gabriel Martinelli (hamstring), Jurrien Timber (knee) and Thomas Partey (groin).
Thankfully for Arteta, two viable replacements for Saka and Rice put in strong shifts in midweek, and Reiss Nelson – who scored the only goal against Brentford and a dramatic 97th-minute winner in a 3-2 triumph over Bournemouth last season – might have done enough to earn another start out wide.
Charles Sagoe Jr made his senior debut in the EFL Cup, but Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah – the former of whom will likely be deployed out wide – are the most likely candidates to complete the attack, as Arteta remains cautious over Emile Smith Rowe’s fitness.
Making amends for his costly North London derby error, Jorginho caught the eye against Brentford and is in contention to link arms with Martin Odegaard and Fabio Vieira – who could again rotate with the ineffective Kai Havertz – in midfield.
All of Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior were instrumental in Arsenal’s narrow cup win, but David Raya, William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko should return to form a familiar rearguard at the Vitality Stadium.
Arsenal possible starting lineup: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Jorginho, Vieira; Nelson, Nketiah, Jesus