Final preparations for Arsenal’s Premier League showdown with Watford are complete.
The Gunners squad were put through their paces by Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff at London Colney on Saturday afternoon and the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Benjamin White and Bukayo Saka all appeared to be in high spirits.
Although, from the training pictures it seems that Takehiro Tomiyasu won’t be available for selection against the Hornets as he was not spotted alongside his teammates during the session.
As a result, a calf problem that first flared up over the festive period and during the Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg defeat to Liverpool in January looks set to rule the 23-year-old out of a fifth successive Arsenal game.
Having been named on the bench for the 2-1 win over Brentford last month, Tomiyasu’s stop-start 2022 continued in the days following as he injured his other calf in training.
“Yes, it was the other calf,” Arteta confirmed. “So he came back and he was completely fine, and in training he felt the other calf.
“This is an issue because he’s a professional, who is giving absolutely everything to help us, and in the last few months he’s not been fit.”
And when delivering an update on Tomiyasu’s progress on Friday, the Gunners boss didn’t sound too confident about having the right-back in contention to face the Hornets.
“We’re in the same place as last week,” the Arteta told reporters. “We still have the doubt with Tomiyasu. The rest I think they’re all there.”
The good news for Arsenal is that most of the other first-team players were spotted in training, although there was no sign of Emile Smith Rowe despite him returning earlier in the week.
Perhaps worryingly for Gunners supporters is the last time the 21-year-old was absent from a session – which just so happens to be as recently as last week – he missed the win over Wolves.
Whether this is an indicator that Smith Rowe has suffered a setback remains to be seen.
With that said, Arteta did call up as many as four U23’s players to make up the numbers as one or two could be named in the matchday squad to face Watford.
As expected, Zak Swanson was involved and he’s most likely to be named on the bench for the second successive game to cover for the possible absence of Tomiyasu.
Meanwhile, young winger Nathan Butler-Oyedeji – who signed his first professional contract last summer – and central defender Jonathan Dinzeyi were also involved.