The scorching conditions down at London Colney were no match for our Gunners this week, as a number of notable players made the return to first-team training.
Speaking ahead of the home clash against Leicester City, Mikel Arteta spoke highly of the commitment and quality on display: “The boys have been training fantastically well.”
One of those in action was new signing, Fabio Vieira, whose eye-catching versatility promises to be a game changer this season: “He doesn’t want to be locked in any one position, because he’s so used to it, and that’s a really positive thing for us.
The boss also called out Vieira’s willingness to meet the physical demands of the Premier League.
“It might take him now time to get there, depending on who he’s playing with and how the game goes - it could take him no time to adapt. What I can tell you is that he’s doing everything he can to make that process really short.”
The Portuguese 22-year-old was joined by several regular starters who were missing from the team sheet for our opening game of the season. Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe, and Takehiro Tomiyasu have all been reintegrated into first-team training this week.
“They are in different phases, but some of them will be in the squad tomorrow.”
Tierney, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in March 2022, featured off the bench in the Crystal Palace match. Arteta was full of praise for his progress: “He played 15-20 minutes last weekend, and he did really well. He's been out for a long time after the knee injury but it looks in perfect condition now and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Emile Smith Rowe looks to have shrugged off the groin injury he picked up in pre-season and is continuing to work towards match fitness. The 22-year-old was a key player during our 2021/22 season, starting 21 games and netting 10 goals for the Gunners in the Premier League alone. Once Smith Rowe recaptures that impressive form, Arteta anticipates a quandary when it comes to squad selection.
“He needs to stay fit, train well, and perform at the level he is able to perform because when he does that, it is really difficult not to pick him.”
However, news from the training ground wasn’t all rosy. Arteta's squad was dealt a blow due to Reiss Nelson’s mid-week injury but the boss remained hopeful that his recovery would be swift.
“He felt something in training. We scanned it and the doctor came with some bad news. It’s a muscular injury and hopefully he will be back soon. They need to do another test and hopefully next week, we’ll have more information.”
Strength in squad depth is more important than ever before following the new Premier League mandate allowing five substitutions per game. The boss highlighted this change in regulations as particularly important as the season progresses.
“It is really helpful in that it gives the squad – and players individually – many more chances to participate in matches. And I think now it's educating players that not playing 90 minutes is not an issue, especially when you have so many games in the season.”
Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.