ARSENAL have been handed a major boost ahead of Saturday’s clash against Aston Villa with Mikel Arteta revealing Takehiro Tomiyasu is in contention to feature.
The Japanese defender hasn’t appeared in the Premier League since the 2-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Emirates on New Year’s Day.
Tomiyasu has missed the last seven top-flight matches with a calf injury, with Cedric Soares deputising in his absence.
It was thought that the ex-Bologna ace could have been included in the matchday squad that lost 2-0 to Liverpool on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old had returned to training, with Arteta insisting that they were being careful at bringing him back too soon.
But now the Spanish gaffer has revealed there is a chance Tomiyasu could be involved in the match at Villa Park this weekend.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Arteta said: “There is a chance but we don’t know, again today in the training session, we’ll see how he’s feeling.
“He had a reoccurring injury around the same place and then after that, you have to be a little bit more cautious sometimes.”
Arteta knows that Arsenal must beat Steven Gerrard’s side if they wish to hold onto fourth spot.
And he could gamble and throw the versatile defender back into the mix to ensure he is starting his strongest XI.
Here Football Audit takes a look at how Arsenal could line-up in the Midlands on Saturday.
Despite his mistake for Diogo Jota’s opener earlier this week, Aaron Ramsdale is nailed on to retain his place between the sticks.
Should Tomiyasu be declared fully fit, he would come in for Cedric, with Kieran Tierney to keep his place at left-back.
Ben White, who has been recalled to the England squad for the upcoming international break, will once again partner Gabriel in the heart of defence.
Thomas Partey will be deployed as the defensive midfielder, with Granit Xhaka back in as a No8 and Martin Odegaard in the No10 role.
Bukayo Saka is likely to keep his place on the right wing, with Gabriel Martinelli to once again start ahead of Emile Smith Rowe following his dazzling display against the Reds.
And French striker Alexandre Lacazette will be tasked with leading the line in favour of Eddie Nketiah.