Unai Emery held his press conference today and provided a team news update ahead of Arsenal’s huge NLD with Tottenham on Sunday afternoon including the latest on Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.
Some fans had hoped Holding may be back in the squad this weekend after stepping-up his recovery from a knee injury with 90 minutes for the U23s last week. However, Emery has confirmed the Spurs game will come too soon for the centre-back so he’ll continue to build-up his match fitness before probably returning after the international break.
The club confirmed on Arsenal.com earlier today that Bellerin and Tierney were ahead of schedule in their recoveries and were now expected to resume full training next month instead of October.
Emery gave his thoughts on the news and confirmed that he will use the upcoming international break to put the full-backs through their paces in training before deciding on a course of action to get them back in the first team as soon as possible.
Ozil is yet to feature for Arsenal this season and he was left out of the squad against Liverpool last weekend despite training in the lead-up to the game. However, Emery says the playmaker has trained well this week and should be back in contention to face Spurs on Sunday.
Lacazette was surprisingly left out of the starting eleven at Anfield but Emery has revealed the striker has been nursing an ankle issue which explained his minor role in the game against Liverpool.
However, the Arsenal boss says Laca’s injury has improved this week and described his progress as ‘positive’ but he stopped short of confirming whether he’d unleash the Frenchman alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe against Spurs.
Emery is quoted as saying on Arsenal.com:
on the latest team news…
Rob Holding is training with us, playing with the under-23s but he is not 100 per cent to play on Sunday with us. We are working with him one way, playing with the under-23s and training with us, and also testing his performance each day and with each match with the under-23s. We think now he is getting better, he can play one match but not with the intensity we want on Sunday, for example.
on Bellerin and Tierney…
Really, we have to be calm but also we have to be demanding with their recovery, because we need them. That international break is going to give us two weeks to test them better than before, because now my focus with the team is the players that will be available on Sunday and to prepare with them. After that match, we will test different players and how they can be closer to us, to the team, to start playing with us.
on Mesut Ozil…
This week he is training well, he is progressing physically better and doing normal work for us. He is going to be closer for us and available for Sunday I think.
on playing Pepe, Auba and Laca together…
Yes, but be calm. My decision in each moment is thinking about how we are. For example with Lacazette he had a problem with his ankle This week is the best week of the last three weeks. He’s getting better and feeling better with his ankle, it’s very positive. With Pepe, he came here later than the others but he is getting and feeling better in each match. Aubameyang is very important for us, he scores two goals in the first two matches, he had two or three good actions in Liverpool.
It’s going to be a huge boost when Bellerin and Tierney are available again but I wouldn’t expect them to be back in the first team until late September – maybe even longer for Hector considering how long he’s been out – as they’re going to need some game-time with the U23s first.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Emery does with Ozil on Sunday. My guess is he’ll be named on the bench against Tottenham but I hope we see Laca, Auba and Pepe starting in attack as I think they’ll cause Tottenham all sorts of problems!