Arsenal

Mikel Arteta can draft in returning Arsenal loanee to replace Emile Smith Rowe vs Crystal Palace

Emile Smith Rowe could miss Arsenal’s 2022/23 Premier League opener against Crystal Palace and his place in the matchday squad could be awarded to a returning loanee

Arsenal have one major injury concern heading into the opening Premier League game of the 2022/23 season.

The Gunners make the short trip across London on Friday night to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and there have been concerns over the fitness of senior quartet Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and summer signing Fabio Vieira due to their limited to no minutes in pre-season.

Although, as revealed by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in his pre-match press conference, three of the aforementioned players were expected to train on Thursday, thus proving their fitness to be available for selection. However, he remained tight-lipped on who would miss out.

“Three out of four are going to be training this afternoon if everything goes well hopefully they are going to be in the squad,” the Spaniard. “Hopefully we are going to start to recover because they missed a lot of minutes and time in pre-season and they are really important players for us.”

Judging by the training images that were released hours after Arteta spoke to the media, it is safe to say that Smith Rowe’s absence has been confirmed as he was not spotted in the session, therefore a groin problem will keep him out of Arsenal’s opening game of the season.

As a result, this may affect the Gunners manager’s thought process when it comes to naming his travelling party for the big Premier League opener.

In a dream scenario where Tierney and Tomiyasu are passed fit they could be included in a 20-man matchday squad against Palace due to Premier League clubs once again being permitted to name up to nine substitutes – from which five can be used across three separate occasions during the match.

They would most likely be joined on the bench by back-up goalkeeper Matt Turner, Eddie Nketiah, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny which may leave the likes of Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Marquinhos battling for one of the final three spots.

Whilst Smith Rowe is an option in midfield, he predominately operated from the left-wing last season – often in competition with Gabriel Martinelli – so Arteta may look to replace the England international in the squad with a natural wide player which leaves Nelson and Marquinhos.

Taking pre-season minutes into account, the Spaniard might be leaning towards including the former in his squad over the £3m summer signing from Sao Paulo as the 22-year-old did start games against Nurnberg and Orlando City as well as coming off the bench against Everton and Sevilla.

Back from an impressive season-long loan spell with Feyenoord, Nelson was on the scoresheet against Orlando City and after the game he was tipped as an internal replacement for Nicolas Pepe should the club-record signing be sold in the summer transfer window.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for either player as deadline day fast approaches, but in Nelson’s case, he may benefit from Smith Rowe’s injury to make the Arsenal squad vs Palace where he could repeat the trick from the opening game of last season where he came off the bench against Brentford.

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