Arsenal just celebrated Takehiro Tomiyasu's return from injury, but they'll now have to make do without him once more for what could be an extended period.
After starting so brightly in north London, Tomiyasu's previous 18 months before the start of the 2023/24 season had proven to be a frustrating period. He battled injuries during the second half of his debut campaign, and was sidelined for the favoured full-back pairing of Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko last term.
However, with Mikel Arteta opting for an even more secure and controlled approach this season, Tomiyasu returned to prominence before picking up a calf injury in the 2-1 win over Wolves at the start of December.
His absence was a lengthy one, and with Zinchenko struggling to have the same influence as he did last season, Tomiyasu was missed before he made his comeback on New Year's Eve.
However, Tomi will now be away with the Japan national team as they go in search of Asian Cup glory.
When will Takehiro Tomiyasu return from 2023 AFC Asian Cup?
“I want the Asian Cup to be played in June, the same as the Euros,” Tomiyasu told Standard Sport.
The Japanese international certainly isn't best pleased with the scheduling of the tournament, with his country aiming for their fifth title in 2023(4).
After playing 45 minutes against Fulham, it's likely that we won't see Tomiyasu in Arsenal colours until February. The defender has teamed up with Japan ahead of their pre-tournament friendly against Jordan on 9 January. Tomiyasu is thus guaranteed to miss Arsenal's FA Cup tie against Liverpool this weekend, as well as their Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on 20 January.
Japan, however, are expected to progress deep into the knockout stages which means Tomi is unlikely to feature against Nottingham Forest and Liverpool. The Asian Cup final is scheduled for 10 February, so if Japan go all the way, the Arsenal defender will also miss the trip to West Ham on 11 February.
My guess is that Tomiyasu will return to the matchday squad when the Gunners visit Burnley on 17 February.