Mikel Arteta has provided the latest team news ahead of the FA Cup clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool with the hope of returning to winning ways following setbacks in recent weeks.
Arsenal will host Liverpool on Sunday in the much anticipated fixture after holding Jurgen Klopp’s men to a 1-1 draw in December.
The Gunners hope to get one better against title rivals in the third round of the FA Cup, but Arteta faces a roster challenge with multiple key absences.
Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny have both joined Japan and Egypt for the Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations respectively this month with the competitions expected to start in the coming days.
Other absences are Jurrien Timber who has been injured since the opening day of the campaign. Fabio Vieira and Thomas Partey also remained sidelined with injuries, adding to Arsenal’s misery and frustrations.
However, amidst these setbacks, Arteta provided a glimmer of hope regarding Ukrainian star Oleksandr Zinchenko who he hinted could make a return against the Reds on Sunday.
The Spaniard expressed optimism and hinted at the possibility of having the 27-year-old available for selection against Liverpool.
“He is progressing well,” stated Arteta, adding, “We will assess whether he’s ready to start the game after our upcoming training session.”
Regarding Partey’s situation following a thigh issue, Arteta emphasised the need for prudence in handling the player’s recovery. “It was about common sense,” he remarked, acknowledging the player’s long-term injury.
On Jurrien Timber’s status, Arteta aimed to manage expectations, indicating a considerable delay before the player’s return. “He’s still very far from being fit to train with the team. We don’t expect him anytime soon,” stated the Arsenal manager.
Updates on Fabio Vieira’s recovery also surfaced. Arteta offered a glimpse of hope, projecting a shorter recovery period. “He’s doing well, but it was a surgery that required two different things,” commented Arteta optimistically, expressing a desire to have Vieira back in action in the upcoming weeks.