Emile Smith Rowe is an injury concern for Arsenal ahead of Monday night’s Premier League trip to Everton.
The newly-capped England playmaker scored a bizarre opening goal in Thursday’s frustrating 3-2 defeat by Manchester United, but later picked up a knock at Old Trafford and was replaced by Bukayo Saka with 20 minutes to go.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta says Smith Rowe has shown encouraging signs since then, but is yet to make a decision on his involvement at Goodison Park.
“He had some discomfort during the game and we decided to take him off. He’s been evolving well over the last few days, so we have to wait until tomorrow to see how he is,” the Spaniard said at his pre-match press conference.
Arsenal remain without Sead Kolasinac, while Bernd Leno missed the defeat at United with a tight groin as 20-year-old goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo served as back-up to first-choice Aaron Ramsdale instead.
However, Granit Xhaka is expected back very soon after resuming partial team training having recovered quicker than expected from a knee injury suffered in September that was initially expected to keep him sidelined until the New Year.
“He is progressing well, he is doing all the right things and he’s feeling better but no more news on that,” Arteta said on Xhaka.
“It’s very positive because the evolution he is doing is great, he is partially training with the team and he is heading in the right direction.”
Pressed if Xhaka could play some part against Everton, the manager responded: “This week he has progressed again to a different level, and tomorrow we will assess how he is, have a conversation with him and decide when is the best moment to start to give him some exposure in games.
“Yes, it will be [a boost to have Xhaka back] and we miss him, he is one of our leaders, one of the senior players who adds something very valuable to the team and hopefully we can have him back soon.”
Here is Arsenal vs Everton: Predicted lineup and confirmed team news
Aaron Ramsdale (GK): No change in net is expected at any stage, let alone in the Premier League, meaning Ramsdale will get another chance to continue proving that he’s the best goalkeeper in world football.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB): Put in another encouraging display against United as he sniffed out danger at every opportunity and gave Jadon Sancho little joy down that side. Certain starter.
Benjamin White (CB): A tough evening for White saw him lose his positioning in key defensive situations but show his class on the ball. Some of his distribution was excellent, he just needs to clean up the rest.
Gabriel (CB): Will have his hands full with his international teammate Richarlison, who is a menace even on his off days. No changes at centre-half expected for Arsenal.
Kieran Tierney (LB): An alteration that isn’t due to be the result of Nuno Tavares underperforming. Arsenal need some more leadership on the pitch to prevent the negativity they show in positive game states and Tierney could be relied on to help them in that regard
Thomas Partey (CM): Compared to the previous 2 league matches, Partey had a much better game against Manchester United and will play an important role on Monday.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (CM): After the failed experiment with Elneny in the United fixture, Arteta must return to Lokonga as the midfield partner for Partey.
The Belgian has a great chance to shine in this fixture and make a statement with his performance.
Bukayo Saka (RM): Mikel Arteta has preferred Saka as his pivotal player on the right flank throughout this season, and after a substitute appearance against United
the young Englishman shall regain his place in the starting XI against the Toffees.
Martin Odegaard (AM): Odegaard played well against United and Arteta will be counting on the Norwegian to deliver on Monday again.
Emile Smith Rowe (LM): ESR found the net at Old Trafford, topping the scoring charts for the Gunners. He is a certain starter for the team and Arteta would want his golden boy to continue his goal-scoring form at Goodison Park.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST): Lacazette must return to the starting lineup if Arsenal want a positive result against Everton.
Aubameyang hasn’t delivered at all this season and its high time other players get their fair chance. Lacazette is being rumoured with a move away from North London, so he will be eager to prove his importance with an emphatic performance on Monday.
Predicted Everton vs Arsenal Score
Everton are currently facing several issues – injuries, suspension, team morale and performances. Arsenal will be eager to take advantage and move closer to the top 4. The expected scoreline is a 2-0 win in Arsenal’s favour.
Predicted Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Lokonga; Saka, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Lacazette.