BREAKING: Mikel Arteta can call-up returning Arsenal loanee to replace Mohamed Elneny vs Aston Villa
Mohamed Elneny will miss Arsenal’s home game against Aston Villa on Wednesday night and his place in the matchday squad could be awarded to a returning loanee
Arsenal have somewhat of a mini-midfield crisis on their hands ahead of facing Aston Villa.
Mikel Arteta was forced into a change prior to last weekend’s 2-1 win over Fulham with Mohamed Elneny replacing Thomas Partey after the Ghana international sustained a minor thigh problem in a training session and was therefore left out of the squad, with the Gunners boss opting against taking any risks.
However, football.london understands that in that same game, Elneny – on his first appearance of the season for Arsenal – unfortunately, picked up a hamstring injury despite managing to play the full 90 minutes and will now be unavailable for selection against Villa.
So with the Egyptian – who will soon discover the extent of his hamstring injury – joining Partey on the sidelines, all of a sudden Arteta’s defensive midfield options for Villa’s visit are limited when taking into consideration that Emile Smith Rowe and summer signing Fabio Vieira are more attack-minded.
Now, the good news is that Oleksandr Zinchenko could return to the squad after he too missed the win over Fulham as a precaution for a knee issue and his versatility makes him an option alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka as the deep-lying midfielder in the Gunners’ 4-3-3 formation.
Although, as two senior midfielders will be absent against Villa and with Zinchenko perhaps not 100 per cent fit, Arteta may look for extra security by replacing Elneny with a natural midfielder in the matchday squad which could open the door for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to be brought in from the cold.
The 25-year-old hasn’t been named in a matchday squad so far this season after returning from a loan spell with AS Roma in the summer but he did operate at the base of Arsenal’s midfield trio when he either started or came off the bench in pre-season friendlies against Nurnberg, Everton, Orlando City and Chelsea.
Interestingly, Maitland-Niles has been strongly tipped to leave the Gunners this summer and if he is included on the bench against Villa, it would represent somewhat of a U-turn on Arteta’s behalf as it appears he has made a decision to not have the versatile midfielder in his plans this season...WATCH.HIGHLIGHT.HERE
That could still be the case as it remains to be seen what the future holds for Maitland-Niles as deadline day fast approaches, but he may benefit from Elneny’s injury to make the Arsenal squad vs Villa where he might be afforded the opportunity to bid farewell to the Emirates faithful.