Smith Rowe's return, Nketiah's form & what to look out for during Arsenal's training camp in Dubai

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The Gunners take on Lyon and AC Milan as part of the Dubai Super Cup during their stay in the city as they prepare for the Premier League's return

Arsenal return to action this week as Mikel Arteta steps up preparations ahead of the return of the Premier League. The Gunners are currently in Dubai where they are enjoying a warm-weather training camp, and on Thursday they will take on Lyon in what will be the first of two games they have in the Dubai Super Cup.

A meeting with AC Milan follows on Tuesday before Arsenal return to London where they will host Juventus on December 17 in their final warm-up game ahead of taking on West Ham on Boxing Day.

So what is going to be happening during the Dubai Super Cup and what should Arsenal fans look out for?

GOAL takes a look:

  1. Nketiah’s big chance

    Nketiah’s big chance

    As demoralising as the news is about Gabriel Jesus’ knee injury, it does give Eddie Nketiah a massive chance to make his mark on Arsenal’s season.

    Nketiah would have been preparing to head to Dubai knowing that the likelihood was that whatever happened in the two games, he would have found himself back behind Jesus in the pecking order when the Premier League returned on December 26.

    But with the Brazilian now set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Nketiah has the opportunity he’s been waiting for in the Premier League. The importance, then of ensuring he is ready to hit the ground running against West Ham is huge.

    This was always going to be a serious trip anyway, with Arteta determined to get his players up to speed so they can continue where they left off before the break.

    But things have now got even more serious for Nketiah, who will lead the frontline in both games against Lyon and Milan, fitness permitting.

    Scoring some goals in those matches would give him a nice little confidence boost ahead of Boxing Day, and Arteta will be hoping his striker can show he is ready to fill the void left by Jesus’ absence.

  2. Vieria’s time to shine

    Vieria’s time to shine

    Just before the Premier League came to a halt in November, Mikel Arteta was asked about the form of summer signing Fabio Vieira.

    After a bright start to life at Arsenal, the £30 million addition from Porto had suffered a dip in performances, with some beginning to question whether he was ready to make an impact in north London.

    But Arteta was quick to defend the playmaker and pointed towards the training camp in Dubai as being a crucial moment for the 22-year-old.

    “He missed a big part because he was injured and didn’t have any pre-season,” the Arsenal boss said. ”I think that period in the World Cup is going to make him very good."

    Vieira was on international duty with Portugal Under-21s recently, so arrived back at London a bit later than everyone else, but he did fly out to Dubai with the squad on Sunday and is training as normal.

    And there is no doubt he will look to use this time away to make a real impact and show that he has a big part to play during the second half of the season.

    A lack of pre-season in the summer did leave him at a major disadvantage, so this training camp could be massively beneficial to a young player who is still looking to really find his way at his new club.

    Arteta could use him out wide in both Dubai Super Cup games, or he could use him in the Granit Xhaka-role alongside Martin Odegaard in the midfield.

    Whatever the manager opts for, Vieira will have two big opportunities to impress over the course of the next week.

  3. Nwaneri and the young guns
    Getty Images.

    Nwaneri and the young guns

    Arsenal’s squad in Dubai includes several members of the club’s U21 and U18s teams, with many expected to be given an opportunity to impress.

    Mikel Arteta might not use them in the same way that he did for last week’s behind-closed-doors friendly against Watford, when he changed the entire outfield starting XI at half-time - with the U21s playing for the whole second half.

    Given the quality of teams that Arsenal will be coming up against, that could do the youngsters more harm than good - so Arteta could look to mix and match a bit over the course of the two matches.

    All eyes will once again be on 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri, who is part of the travelling party.

    Nwaneri became both Arsenal and the Premier League’s youngest-ever player when he came off the bench during the closing moments of the Gunners’ 3-0 win at Brentford earlier in the season.

    Interest in the youngster has remained high ever since, and this could be the first time lots of Arsenal fans get to watch him for a prolonged period of time.

    A number of other youngsters have made the trip, including 16-year-old Myles Lewis-Skelly, as well as Catalin Cirjan, Amario Cozier-Duberry and Zane Monlouis.

  4. A Lacazette reunion

    A Lacazette reunion

    Thursday’s game against Lyon will certainly have an interesting side story to it.

    Not only is it Arsenal’s first televised game since the win at Wolves at the start of November, but it's a game that will also see them reunited with Alexandre Lacazette.

    The Gunners’ former captain left the club in the summer after five years in north London so that he could return to Lyon, the club where he first made his name.

    There was no bad blood around his departure and Lacazette remained a popular figure within the squad during his final season with the Gunners, even though he had lost his place in the team by the time the campaign came to an end.

    So he will be sure to get a good reception on Thursday if he leads Lyon out at the Al Maktoum Stadium, both on the pitch and in the stands. 

  5.  World Cup stars to fly in
    Getty Images.

    World Cup stars to fly in

    One of the main reasons for Arsenal opting to spend some time in Dubai ahead of the return of the Premier League was so players who were knocked out of the World Cup would be able to link up easily with the squad.

    Dubai is only a short journey from Qatar and Mikel Arteta wants to get his full squad together as quickly as possible in a bid to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running against West Ham.

    It is currently unclear how quickly Arsenal will look to get their players back involved, as they are also expected to be given a bit of time off to recharge their batteries following their exertions in Qatar.

    Players like Thomas Partey and Matt Turner could be the earliest to arrive, with Takehiro Tomiyasu not too far behind them.

  6. Smith Rowe's return

    Smith Rowe's return

    Emile Smith Rowe has not played for Arsenal since the defeat at Manchester United in September, as the playmaker has been recovering from an operation on a groin issue that had been plaguing him for the past 12 months.

    Smith Rowe has, however, travelled out to Dubai as he steps up his recovery ahead of his potential return.

    Whether the Lyon and Milan games come too soon for him remain to be seen, but just seeing Smith Rowe back on the training pitch will be a major boost to everyone at Arsenal.