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Arteta provides Smith Rowe fitness update ahead of Chelsea clash

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Brighton, England.The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has provided a fitness update on his squad, ahead of the club’s upcoming showdown with Chelsea.

Contrasting fortunes

Arteta and co. are set to return to action on Wednesday night.

The Gunners will make the trip to Stamford Bridge, for a daunting Premier League derby meeting with in-form Chelsea.

Arsenal will head into the clash with little more than pride to play for, having long seen their hopes of securing a top-6 finish go out the window.

The north Londoners did return to winning ways at the weekend, courtesy of a 3-1 downing of West Brom, but, just days prior, saw their campaign essentially ended in a Europa League semi-final exit at the hands of Villarreal.

Arteta provides fitness updates on Arsenal quartet – including Smith Rowe – ahead of Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 06: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the UEFA Europa League Semi-final Second Leg match between Arsenal and Villareal CF at Emirates Stadium on May 06, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around Europe remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Capital rivals Chelsea, on the other hand, remain alive and kicking.

The Blues sit in the thick of the top-4 battle, and just last week sent tournament specialists Real Madrid packing to book their spot in the final of the Champions League.

ESR latest

As such, Arsenal look set to have their work very much cut out for them at Stamford Bridge in 48 hours’ time.

Mikel Arteta will therefore no doubt be hopeful of having as many of his key performers fit and ready for selection as possible on Wednesday night.

In turn, speaking after guiding the Gunners to a morale-boosting victory, it came as little surprise when the Spaniard was drawn on the wellbeing of his squad.

First up was Emile Smith Rowe, who was forced off versus West Brom with what appeared to be a hamstring issue:

‘I don’t know, he felt something in his hamstring so we took him off,’ Arteta explained.

‘Sometimes he cramps and that’s something that’s been happening for a while because he’s still adapting to the league, to the amount of games every three days. Hopefully it’s nothing major.’

On the trio of Granit Xhaka, David Luiz and Pablo Mari, all of whom missed out on Sunday with respective fitness problems, Arteta added:

‘Let’s see how they recover. Again, we’ve lost so many players in recent weeks, so many big players. They have a huge effect on the team and it will be great because we have a very difficult game.’

 

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