Arsenal’s preparations for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Watford are under way.
In a change to tradition, Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff have put the Gunners squad through their paces in a training session at the Emirates Stadium instead of London Colney.
The likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Magalhaes, Martin Odegaard and Benjamin White were all involved as the north London outfit prepare for a trip to Vicarage Road.
The 21-year-old missed last Thursday’s 2-1 win over Wolves because of sickness, although the club revealed it was not Covid-19 related which meant the attacking midfielder wouldn’t be spending too much time on the sidelines.
This has turned out to be the case with Smith Rowe making a speedy recovery as he was in good spirits on the Emirates turf.
However, Arteta wasn’t able to run the rule over every Arsenal first-team player.
Absent from the session in north London was defender Takehiro Tomiyasu whose start to 2022 has been impacted by calf problems.
Having missed the goalless draw with Burnley as well as the 1-0 win at Wolves, the Japan international made his return to the Arsenal matchday squad for the 2-1 win over Brentford last month.
But the 23-year-old suffered a setback in training ahead of the reverse meeting with Wolves, sustaining another calf problem which makes him doubtful for Sunday’s game with Watford as well as subsequent fixtures against Leicester City and Liverpool.
“Yes, it was the other calf,” Arteta confirmed. “So he came back and he was completely fine, and in training he felt the other calf.
“So this is an issue because he’s a professional, who is giving absolutely everything to help us, and in the last few months he’s not been fit.”
The fact Tomiyasu wasn’t spotted in the Arsenal training session alongside his teammates on Tuesday will only raise concerns about his availability for what will be a tough month for Arteta’s side.
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If he is unavailable for the trip to Watford, then one can expect Cedric Soares to deputise once again at right-back as Arsenal look to take control of the top-four race.
Currently sitting sixth in the Premier League table behind Manchester United and West Ham United, this weekend’s fixtures have been rather kind to the Gunners – well at least on paper.
Therefore victory at Vicarage Road coupled with a Man United losing the Manchester derby and West Ham failing to beat Liverpool 24 hours earlier means Arsenal will end the weekend in fourth place.