Arsenal should target Jurrien Timber return for potential title-decider

  • Jurrien Timber is back in Arsenal training
  • Timber has been out of action since August after ACL tear
  • Arsenal take on Manchester City at the end of March
Jurrien Timber is back in Arsenal training
Jurrien Timber is back in Arsenal training / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Arsenal fans, rejoice! Jurrien Timber is back in training.

An overwhelming portion of the Dutchman's debut campaign in north London was snatched away when he succumbed to an ACL tear on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Signed from Ajax for £38m last summer, high expectations greeted the new arrival heading into the 2023/24 campaign following a bright pre-season during which he starred in Arsenal's Community Shield victory over Manchester City.

A player long admired by the club, as Edu Gaspar admitted upon his arrival, Timber should have the chance to have an impact in year one as the Gunners prepare themselves for another gruelling title challenge.

Arsenal should target Jurrien Timber return for potential title-decider

Jurrien Timber, Julian Alvarez
Timber starred against Man City in the Community Shield / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Positive updates have been pretty incessant in recent months regarding Timber's road to recovery. While some projections were nothing short of ludicrously optimistic, many rightfully believed that the Dutchman would play some part for Mikel Arteta's side before the season draws to a close.

The manager only recently doubled down on this hope.

The Dutchman was out on the grass during Arsenal's warm-weather training camp in January, and he was pictured on Wednesday back in Gunners training on the Emirates turf.

So, when can we expect Timber to be back in competitive action? Well, it's worth noting that the defender has not yet made a full return to training. As you'd expect, having suffered a devastating knee injury, the club are easing Timber back in. It's understood that the 22-year-old did not complete the entirety of Wednesday's session and only joined in the team exercises after completing some individual work.

Thus, we're still some way away from seeing Timber don the iconic red and white for the first time since August. He's unlikely to feature before the March international break - and rightly so - with Arsenal's schedule being eased, for the time being, after Chelsea progressed into the FA Cup quarter-finals. The London rivals will no longer face off on 16 March as a result.

The Gunners have three games before the March break, including the all-important second leg against FC Porto. Timber has been included in the knockout stage squad, but that was with a view of Arsenal progressing deeper into the competition. The Dutchman will want to be back for the quarter-finals in April, but he'll also want to be involved for the huge domestic bout on 31 March when the Gunners travel to Man City.

I might be being slightly optimistic here, but surely this is when the club should pinpoint Timber's return? That's the biggest game of the season. Victory at the Etihad, presuming wins over Sheffield United and Brentford are scored, would set Arsenal up for their first Premier League triumph in 20 years.

Even if he merely plays a cameo role, that's when I'd love to see the 22-year-old back in action. However, I appreciate that a return in April is more likely.