Mikel Arteta handed fresh triple Arsenal injury blow ahead of Sporting CP Europa League clash

Arsenal are gearing up for another big European night as they travel to Portugal to face Sporting CP in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16. The Gunners are hoping to get as far into the competition as possible after missing out on the 2019 final against rivals Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta navigated the group stage, turning the page for the encounters and beating PSV Eindhoven, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich on their run. The north London side finished as group winners, meaning they avoided playing two extra games in the play-offs if instead finished runners-up.

Speaking about the competition a few months ago, Arteta mentioned the importance of reaching the top and the difficulty of the next rounds. He told reporters: “This competition is getting tougher and as it looks today and what the opportunities are, it looks like the next round is going to be extremely competitive. That’s why it’s so important to finish top of the group and avoid two more games, it’s a matter for us.”

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Arteta has some injury concerns to deal with, however, meaning there may be less rotation than expected from the side. A big boost is the return of Gabriel Jesus, although it may be too early for him with three players missing training on Wednesday.

Kieran Tierney, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah were not spotted at first-team training, with the latter two already having doubts about the encounter. This means that the only options available for striker are Gabriel Martinelli or Emile Smith Rowe, while left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko or Takehiro Tomiyasu are options.

It remains to be seen what options Arteta will choose when the north London side take on Sporting on Thursday, but with the Premier League title race also drawing to a close it will be a balancing act to ensure the side can compete in both is competitive.


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