Arsenal continued their fine Premier League form with a 3-1 win away at Southampton, a game that wasn’t without casualties. There were injuries to contend with pre-match, as well as more after full-time.
Missing a glorious opportunity to take the lead and then seeing the Saints go up the other end and score minutes later set the stage for an infuriating evening. Fast forward 85 minutes and it was all smiles from the visiting side.
The 19-year-old turned provider in the second half as he set up Alexandre Lacazette to put gloss on the scoreline, with the elation after the game tempered with fears of injuries to key players.
Arsenal provide injury updates on Emile Smith Rowe, Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Emile Smith Rowe was forced off with a muscle issue and a similar fate befell Thomas Partey, who had to come off with apparent cramp. Add to that the absence of a certain Scotsman and key players are picking up knocks at undesired moments. After all, it’s Manchester United up next.
"“He [Smith Rowe] was injured for the game in the FA Cup so he wasn’t available,” the manager told the official Arsenal website. “We knew that he probably could not play the whole game today. He has some muscular discomfort so he had to come off again.”"
It’s little surprise considering he worked his Jack Grealish-esque socks off all night that the 20-year-old is feeling muscle soreness.
"“We don’t know, we don’t know [if Partey suffered cramp]. He was feeling some discomfort and hopefully it’s nothing, but he was struggling,” the Spaniard added."
A different complexion with Partey and Smith Rowe in the side, Arsenal’s speed of movement cranks up and an understanding of time and space become evident at both ends of the midfield. To use a golf reference, the idea of the sport is to play as little golf as possible.
Partey and Smith Rowe try play their game in a similar vein: one or two touches, and the ball is in the hole. It’s as majestic as it is measured.
With the Red Devils to come on Saturday, it’s a case of hoping and praying they can shake their knocks off. Martin Odegaard isn’t ready to be thrust straight into Premier League matches from the start. Mikel Arteta’s hand might be forced.