Five Arsenal u23s joined first-team training ahead of the North London derby, as doubts persist about the fitness of certain senior players.
In Arsenal’s final pre-North London derby training session, five members of the u23 squad joined up with the first team.
Jonathan Dinzeyi (centre-back, ex-Spurs), Marcelo Flores (winger), Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand (midfielder), Charlie Patino (midfielder), and Zak Swanson (full-back) are seemingly the players in contention for the senior call-up for Thursday’s game.
We know Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are out, so at least two of the above five will be in the squad. Swanson is the most likely, having now been involved in 12 consecutive Premier League matchday squads.
But there could be room for more youth players in Thursday’s squad. Mikel Arteta confirmed both Ben White and Bukayo Saka are doubts for the match in his pre-game press conference.
“With Ben, he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better,” Arteta said. “With Bukayo, it’s the same.
“It’s very difficult to rate (the chances) with injuries, it’s just how they feel today, that’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling, basically.”
If White and Saka were both out, then four of the five players listed above would end up in the squad. They might even all end up joining the team, with one of them acting as the extra man in case of emergencies.
From a competitive perspective, Arsenal will obviously hope that only a couple of the youngsters are actually needed on the night.
As much as it would be a great experience for the u23s, the priority is winning the match and securing Champions League football, which Arsenal will be much better placed to do with Saka and White involved.