SportEarly brings to you all latest Arsenal News. Mikel Arteta facing double Arsenal dilemma for Wolves match as Gabriel Martinelli returns
Mikel Arteta has the perfect setup for Arsenal’s rematch with Wolves on Thursday night.
With Gabriel Martinelli poised to return to the squad after serving his one-game ban for the red card he received in controversial manner in the reverse match against Bruno Lage’s side earlier this month, every Gunners first-team player is available for selection.
While this is certainly excellent news for Arsene Wenger, it leaves Arteta with a selection issue.
Furthermore, with Takehiro Tomiyasu back in contention after a calf injury, the Spaniard faces two major dilemmas when choosing his starting team for the match against Wolves at the Emirates Stadium.
Of course, Martinelli is at the center of the first major choice. Prior to his dismissal at Molineux, the Brazilian had probably been Arsenal’s greatest player in a torrid January, having emerged as one of Arteta’s undroppables throughout the Christmas break.
Arteta’s decision to leave Arsenal’s top scorer, Emile Smith Rowe, out of the team spoke volumes and reaffirmed that he will stick with those who are doing well.
Smith Rowe came into the team and staked his claim to remain in the starting XI after breaking the deadlock early in the second half, finishing off a driving run with a crisp finish into the bottom corner.
With Martinelli suspended for Saturday’s visit of Brentford, Smith Rowe came into the team and staked his claim to remain in the starting XI.
The 21-year-old was taken off with 15 minutes remaining, indicating that Arteta is keeping an eye on his fitness for Thursday night.
Smith Rowe’s confidence will be high going into the game against Wolves after scoring his 10th goal of the season in all competitions – the 1st academy graduate to do so since Fabregas in the 2009/2010 campaign – and to be named on the bench for the very next game would be a bold call from the Arsenal manager.
At the same time, considering Martinelli’s form during the last two months, it would be reasonable if he was replaced.
The best aspect about this predicament is that there is fierce rivalry for positions all over the field, and Arteta may have intimated that Smith Rowe and Martinelli must impress him this week in training.
He told reporters after the 2-1 win over Brentford, “Yes, but the performances on the pitch as well as the way they train.”
“We only play once a week, and it’s frustrating to see guys practice properly but not be able to offer them minutes on the weekends.”
If deciding between Martinelli and Smith Rowe for one slot in the Arsenal XI is challenging, there’s a case to be made that under normal circumstances, the right-back issue is very clear.
Since joining Arsenal from Serie A club Bologna last summer, Tomiyasu has been a steady performer, securing a spot on the right side of the Gunners’ back four until a calf injury sustained in a 4-1 win against Leeds United during the holiday break put an end to his development.
In 2022, the Japan international has only made two appearances up all competitions, but he rejoined to the team at the weekend, watching Cedric Soares put in another comfortable performance from the bench.
Naturally, given what has transpired this season, Tomiyasu should get an instant return at right-back now that he is healthy again, but Cedric’s previous two performances make a compelling argument for him to start a third Premier League game in a row.
One glance at Arteta’s team selections this season when he’s struck a successful formula should give us a hint as to what the aforementioned trio can expect on Thursday night.
The Spaniard made no changes to his team in Premier League triumphs against Southampton, West Ham United, and Leeds United, instead opting to utilize the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Sunderland to give Cedric and Smith Rowe a chance to shine.
Now that the game is on the other foot, Arteta’s attitude might indicate that he would stick with the same lineup that started the win against Brentford.
While the Spaniard faces a double selection dilemma in terms of changing things up for Wolves’ visit – a game that has an added edge following Ruben Neves’ displeasure with Arsenal fans and players’ post-match celebrations – it’s certainly a nice problem to have after the well-documented selection issues throughout January.
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