Mikel Arteta gave an update on Mat Ryan’s fitness on Thursday morning, with the Australian goalkeeper in a race against time to make it back for Saturday’s match.

Mat Ryan after signing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Mat Ryan after signing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)

After Bernd Leno’s red card earlier in the week, Arsenal face the prospect of starting one of their backup goalkeepers away to Aston Villa at the weekend.

The club signed a new goalkeeper in January for this very reason, bringing in Mat Ryan from Brighton and Hove Albion on loan. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old suffered an injury to his right hip in training and has been out of action for the last week or so.

Mikel Arteta admitted on Thursday that the goalkeeper still hasn’t returned to training, just two days away from the next game. As things stand, that would leave Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson to start his first Premier League match.

“He has not been available to train yet, and Alex is available, so we will have the choice between the two of them for the weekend,” Arteta said. “If Mat is able to train, and they are both fit, we will have a decision to make. If Mat is not fit, obviously Alex will be in goal.

“Unfortunately when you least need them (suspensions and injuries), it actually happens. So we are more protected now, having Mat as well in the squad and let’s see if he’s fit. But for now, Alex is fit as well.”

The Arsenal fans haven’t been hugely impressed with Rúnarsson’s contributions in goal so far. He made a couple of good saves against Wolves, but he seemed nervy on the ball and his positioning sometimes seems suspect.

More than that, the fans would probably prefer to see a goalkeeper with more experience of Premier League action, so if Ryan is available, then he’d be the preferred option. It looks like a real race against time now though.