Mikel to make late calls on Partey and Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey during pre-season

Mikel Arteta has said that he’ll take another look at Thomas Partey’s fitness ahead of our trip to Aston Villa tomorrow.

The Ghanaian international sat out Wednesday’s game against Manchester City with a muscle injury after Mikel made a late call on the midfielder, and the boss feels he may have to do a similar thing this weekend, although was impressed with how Jorginho filled in at Emirates Stadium.

“We have to assess [Thomas] again today,” Arteta said in his pre-match press conference. “He has some muscle discomfort and we have to see how he is.

“[Jorginho] has come into the team and earned the respect of everybody. You see his leadership, his understanding of the game, how he’s coaching everybody. I think he had a really good game.

“You need players with those experiences that can guide, lead, give them reassurances and show [others] the path of how it gets done. That’s what we’re talking about, if you want to win the league, you have to dig deep. Sometimes you have to win it in the 96th minute, sometimes you have to play with 10 men. You have to win in many different contexts.”

While Gabriel Jesus remains out alongside long-term casualty Mohamed Elneny, another player trying to be available ahead of the journey to Birmingham is Emile Smith Rowe. 

The forward has missed the past four matches through injury, but has returned to training as he aims to play a part against Unai Emery’s side. That could be crucial given the quick turnaround between games, but Mikel is refusing to use the lunchtime kick-off as an excuse.
“Emile is training today and if he’s fine, he’ll be in the squad,” he added.

“It’s very difficult to play tomorrow [but] we will have full energy. It’s not a worry - I want the players to be in the best possible mindset and physically ready to get that challenge going.

“We knew that we would be playing within that timeframe, and that’s not an excuse.”

Read everything Mikel had to say with the whole transcript from the press conference

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