Here are your Arsenal morning headlines for Saturday, March 27.
Odegaard reveals key players in move
Asked by the Premier League’s YouTube channel about whether fellow countrymen Joshua King and Sander Berge were contacted, he said: “Yeah, I spoke to both of them.
“I also spoke to another guy who used to play at Fulham, Stefan Johansen. He was the former captain of the national team so I spoke to him to know a little bit about the league and how they saw the league.
“They had only good things to say about the league and everything here from the football and they told me a lot of good things.
“The Premier League is really big in Norway so I grew up watching it every week and everyone in Norway follows the league so close. It’s a dream to be able to play here.”
Saka injury blow
England have confirmed that Arsenal star Bukayo Saka will not be joining up with the Three Lions squad before the end of the current international break.
The 19-year-old was taken off at half time in Arsenal’s victory over Tottenham due a hamstring injury, but recovered in time to be fit for their next Premier League fixture against West Ham.
Despite that though, Saka missed out on the Three Lions’ 5-0 victory over San Marino on Thursday night after staying with the Gunners for assessment on an injury problem that is not thought to be the same issue that forced him out of the North London Derby.
It was still hoped that he could join up with Gareth Southgate’s side at St. George’s Park ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Poland.
But now the FA have released a statement confirming that neither he nor Marcus Rashford will be available for those two fixtures.
“Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka will play no part in England’s forthcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers,” read the article on the FA’s website.
Pepe adds to Arteta’s headache
Arsenal are now likely to be without up to four players for a month during next season.
The Gunners, and indeed their rivals, have the African Cup of Nations to contend with next year. The competition, hosted by Cameroon, is set to be held across January and February of 2022.
The tournament was originally set to be played this summer, but due in part to the coronavirus situation, it was moved back to take place next winter.
And that’s bad news for any club with African players whose countries have qualified for the competition. Those players will have to take a break from club competition to participate.
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That accounts for up to four Arsenal players with Nicolas Pepe and Ivory Coast wrapping up qualification after beating Niger this evening, qualifying with a game to spare.
Pepe follows Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt) in qualifying for next year’s AFCON, and that will be a real blow for Mikel Arteta with Thomas Partey and Ghana also looking likely to qualify before the current international break is over.
The Gunners boss is now set to be without four key players at a crucial point in the season, just after games pile up over the festive period.
And what’s more, all four of those national teams have a very decent chance of reaching the late stages of the competition, meaning Arsenal won’t have much hope of getting their players back before the latter stages of the competition.