Chelsea tie looms large:
Ahead of a tricky tie against in-form side Chelsea, Mikel Arteta has revealed the state of a squad that has been battered and bruised by a long and intense season. The Gunners were boosted by the returns of pair Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney ahead of schedule, but Emile Smith Rowe worryingly limped off in their 3-1 victory over West Brom on Sunday.
Arteta, however, seemed upbeat about the England U21 international’s chances of making the Chelsea game, suggesting that he would be in contention to play against Chelsea.
It was this fixture that kickstarted both Smith Rowe’s Arsenal career and Arsenal’s season in December, with a 3-1 victory over then-Frank Lampard’s Chelsea proving something of a turning point in Arsenal’s poor season.
Nevertheless, with Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard fit, Smith-Rowe may have to be content with a place on the bench in order to accommodate the Norwegian international, whilst selection headaches persist around Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli
Luiz out of contention:
One player who won’t be making the trip across London tomorrow however is David Luiz, who is yet to recover from the hamstring injury that he sustained in Arsenal’s win over Newcastle ten days ago. In his press conference, Arteta said that:
“Well the situation with David [Luiz] is that he is not yet recovered, we will see how he does in the next few weeks.”
It could prove to be a big blow for Arsenal, as Luiz adds leadership and calmness in defence that Arsenal often lack without him. With no news as of yet about whether Arsenal intend to extend his contract, which expires in the summer, it is entirely possible that fans have seen the last of Luiz in an Arsenal shirt.
Tough test for Arteta’s side:
Asked about Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel, Arteta said that:
“Well probably they’ve been the best team in the league in the last few months, what Thomas has been able to do since he arrived has been exceptional. He put the team in two finals, the way the team is looking, how solid they are defensively as well, how composed and regular they have been in their performance has been excellent.”
Even at full strength, Arsenal will have to play some of the best football of their season to walk away from Stamford Bridge with anything other than defeat. They may be boosted by the fact that Chelsea could feel the need to rotate ahead of their FA cup final clash with Leicester City on Saturday, but Chelsea’s squad depth will still pose a problem for the Gunners.
Video & stats: Romelu Lukaku continues to show Man United what they’re missing with dazzling MOTM display vs Lazio
Chelsea tie looms large:Ahead of a tricky tie against in-form side Chelsea, Mikel Arteta has revealed the state of a squad that has been battered and bruised by a long and intense season. The Gunners were boosted by the returns of pair Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney ahead of schedule, but Emile Smith Rowe worryinglyFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed