Arsenal have certainly had better days than 17 December 2022.
The Gunners were thwarted by Massimiliano Allegri’s youthful Juventus in their final official friendly before the Premier League’s return as two own goals saw Mikel Arteta’s side fall to a 2-0 defeat.
While many will complain that the fixture meant little, Arsenal’s performance at the Emirates was flat and it felt like the momentum built up from a successful warm-weather training camp in Dubai had been sapped.
Arteta will welcome back more World Cup stars to the fold next week ahead of West Ham’s visit, but the Spaniard could be without several key names for Arsenal’s Boxing Day bout under the Emirates lights.
5 Arsenal players that could miss the Boxing Day clash against West Ham
Here are five (not including Gabriel Jesus) that risk missing the Gunners’ upcoming Premier League encounter against the Hammers.
The Japanese international left for the World Cup worse for wear and his minutes were carefully managed by the national team out in Qatar as he started just one of Japan’s four games.
Tomiyasu played 120 minutes in the round of 16 defeat to Croatia, not appearing to have picked up a knock. However, football.london’s Kaya Kaynak reported after kick-off on Saturday that Tomiyasu was absent due to a hamstring issue.
Fortunately, the problem doesn’t appear to be severe with Arteta confirming after the game that Tomiyasu is “out on the pitch”. He should be training next week and in contention for Boxing Day.
Zinchenko has had a huge impact at the Emirates despite injuries plaguing the start of his Arsenal career.
The versatile full-back only just returned from a lengthy layoff when it was reported during the club’s trip to Dubai that Zinchenko was nursing another problem – believed to be muscle tightness.
He wasn’t risked against Lyon, AC Milan or Juventus and Arteta said on Saturday that the former Manchester City man is “progressing well”. Nevertheless, his status for West Ham is up in the air.
Emile Smith Rowe
Supporters are hopeful that they’ll get to see Smith Rowe in an Arsenal shirt before the end of the year, but we might have to be a little more patient.
The dynamic midfielder, who’s been out of action since September with a groin injury, made the trip out to the Middle East but he didn’t appear in the Dubai Super Cup.
The club are understandably taking it slow with Smith Rowe, with Arteta confirming on Saturday that the England international hasn’t been able to train over the past few days. The manager hopes to have him back on the training field next week, but it’s unlikely that he’ll suit up against the Hammers.
I’m expecting to see Smith Rowe back at the start of 2023.
This is a fresh setback the Gunners could’ve really done without. Just when it looked like Nelson was going to continue from where he left off before the World Cup…
The resurgent winger was forced off in Saturday’s friendly with an undisclosed injury and Arteta wasn’t exactly overly optimistic over Nelson’s outlook post-match.
“We don’t know the extent of the injury. The fact that he had to leave the pitch straight away is not good news, especially with someone like Reiss who is really powerful and fast. Let’s see what will happen.”
Lokonga missed the Juventus defeat with a foot injury, but his absence on Saturday was only precautionary. The Belgian midfielder should be in the Boxing Day squad.