Arsenal manager Arteta issues Smith Rowe injury update and reveals World Cup stars Saka & Martinelli are 'desperate' to play against West Ham on Boxing Day
- Arsenal top of the league
- Five points ahead of Man City
- Key stars in doubt for next game
WHAT HAPPENED? The English midfielder has been out of action for months now and has not played since having groin surgery back in September, but is nearing a return. Teammates Saka and Martinelli both made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup with England and Brazil respectively, but have now both returned to north London. None of the trio featured in a recent 2-0 friendly defeat to Juventus.
WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking after the game, Arteta said: "[Emile] hasn’t been able to train in the last few days but hopefully he can start [to train] next week. He’s been out for a while now - he needs some time to get back to speed. We really need him and we’re going to welcome him with both arms, because he’s a really important player for us. We need him fit on the pitch."
On when Saka and Martinelli could be involved again, he added: "They’ll come back straight away into the rhythm, shape and mould of the team. We’re waiting for them and they are desperate to be back as well. I’ve spoken to both of them. Gabi was here today, with a big smile and big energy. He’s ready to go again. It’s going to be a big boost for the team."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: With key striker Gabriel Jesus out injured, the Gunners could be short on attacking options when they face West Ham in the Premier League on Boxing Day - making the speedy return of the three forwards even more important.
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WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? As Smith Rowe has been out for so long and hasn't been able to fully train this week, the Hammers clash may come too soon for him but Saka and Martinelli could both be in contention to play some part.