Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu were not included in the Arsenal squad for the game against Wolves on Thursday night, so what is the problem?
Emile Smith Rowe was a surprise absentee from the Arsenal squad for their crunch tie against Wolves which saw the Gunners score a 95th minute winner against a cheaty Wolves side.
It turns out the midfielder is ill (not Covid).
“He’s ill,” Mikel Arteta said before the game.
“He tried to get back for the game. He has some stomach problems.”
As for Tomiyasu, there was a positive update on him during the week and he was expected to be in the squad after returning to the bench against Brentford but he has calf problem.
After the game against Wolves, Arteta said, “It’s the other calf.
“He came back, he was training and he felt the other calf.
“It is an issue because he’s a professional that is giving absolutely everything to help us and in the last few months he’s not been fit.”
Tomiyasu also suffered a calf problem in February 2021 that kept him out for 18 days.
Arsenal 2 Wolves 1
Arsenal were denied a clear penalty in the opening minute of the game, not that anyone was surprised.
A Gabriel error gifted Wolves an opener and it seemed, for most of the night, that Arsenal would pay for their lack of firepower.
The introduction of Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe, however, changed the game, with the pair combining brilliantly to draw Arsenal level.
For all his frustrations, Nicolas Pepe has huge qualities, and he changed the game for #Arsenal tonight. Superb equaliser, and great link up with Ødegaard and Lacazette for the winner. We need a confident Pepe for this crucial run in! #ARSWOL #afc
— Adam Keys (@adamkeys_) February 24, 2022
Alexandre Lacazette’s 95th minute shot was deflected in off the keeper’s gloves.
LACAZETTE qui délivre les Gunners grâce à ce but à la 90+5 contre Wolverhampton.
WHAT A STRIKEEEER !!!pic.twitter.com/67A9EOpyft
— Rudi Bosz (@Kentinhooo) February 24, 2022
“Really happy, it s amazing to win a game in the last minute like this,” Lacazette said after the game.
“After we conceded the first goal, it was a hard game, but we didn’t give up.
“A bit sad it [the goal] is not for me, but we keep going.
Arsenal lineup vs Wolves: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette
Arsenal subs: Leno, Holding, Tavares, Swanson, Elneny, Lokonga, Hutchinson, Pepe, Nketiah
Emile Smith Rowe admits the race for top four is looking good for Arsenal at the moment, but they aren’t thinking about the end of the season yet.
Going into Thursday night’s match against Wolves, Arsenal’s position in the top-four race is somewhat precarious.
On the one hand, none of Arsenal’s top-four rivals of Manchester United, West Ham United, Wolves, and Spurs would be able to match Arsenal’s points tally if they win their games in hand.
If Arsenal took maximum points from their extra games, they’d be at least five points clear of any of the others. They’d even be just a couple of points behind Chelsea in third.
But right now, they’re four points behind Manchester United. A defeat to Wolves would leave them in seventh. Even with all those games in hand, the growing gap makes the task feel more daunting.
So whilst Emile Smith Rowe is clearly happy with the opportunity Arsenal have ahead of them, he says the team need to focus on the present.
“It’s looking good at the moment, but there are a lot of games to go,” Smith Rowe said.
“We are just going to keep focused on that. We are not too worried about the end of the season right now.”
Smith Rowe is obviously playing his part at the moment, as Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions this season.
He bagged his 10th goal of the campaign to open the scoring for Mikel Arteta’s side at the weekend.
To make it into next season’s Champions League, the team can’t afford to ease off or start dreaming about the future.