Mikel Arteta thinks Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson are all in contention to feature against Portsmouth, after playing for the u23s on Friday.
Mikel Arteta sent four members of his senior squad off to play with the Arsenal u23s on Friday, as the team faced Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium. Pablo Mari and Ainsley Maitland-Niles played the first half, whilst Rob Holding and Reiss Nelson came on for the second.
As a result, none of the four played more than 45 minutes. That means they’re all still available for Monday’s match against Portsmouth if necessary. Arteta says they’re ready to feature.
“Yes, I think he (Pablo Mari) needed minutes,” Arteta began. “Like Rob (Holding) did, like Ainsley (Maitland-Niles) and like Reiss (Nelson) as well.
“I think it was a good game for them to get their fitness levels tested as well and they trained today really well. They are all, I think, ready to play.”
Holding is still making a slow full recovery after his ACL injury. He’s up to nine appearances this season and featured in both of the previous FA Cup rounds under Arteta. But in the league, he only played nine minutes of the new head coach’s first nine matches.
Mari is yet to play at all for the Arsenal first team. He’s building his fitness after the Brazilian post-season break and could make his debut on Monday.
Maitland-Niles is likely to start at left-back. That’s where he played for the u23s, and where Arsenal are short. As for Nelson, he made the bench for the first time post-injury in the Everton match. He could get himself a game too at right-wing.