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Kieran Tierney close to Arsenal debut as Unai Emery provides injury update on three stars

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has offered updates on the fitness of defensive trio Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney.

The Gunners take on Aston Villa at the Emirates tomorrow (4.30pm) looking to respond to their disappointment against Watford a week ago.

Arsenal squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Vicarage Road in their second successive draw, both by the same score-line.

A much-changed side recovered to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening Europa League group stage game on Thursday but now getting back on track domestically is their chief ambition.

Their mid-week clean sheet will however have been more than welcome for Emery, whose side have once again struggled defensively this season.

David Luiz, signed from Chelsea for £8million in the summer, gave away a second penalty in just three games at Watford and Arsenal have already leaked eight goals in five league matches.

Such are their problems at the back that Arsenal fans are clamouring for the returns of several stars, with Holding and Bellerin long-term absentees while another summer addition – left-back Tierney – has yet to make his debut due to fitness issues.

But the Spanish boss has revealed the trio are all increasingly closer to 100 per cent, with former Celtic star Tierney closing in on his first appearance after moving south of the border for £25m.

Emery said: ”[Holding] is ready to play. We are playing on Sunday against Aston Villa and on Tuesday against Nottingham Forest [in the Carabao Cup]. These two matches I can decide whether or not to play.

“Hector Bellerin has had a long injury. He needs to go through a process, then we will see how he’s feeling. When he’s confident enough to play, he can start with us.

“With Kieran Tierney, his injury was shorter than Bellerin’s, but the same [process].

“He’ll play [Friday night], we’ll see how he finishes that match and then we have two matches Sunday and Tuesday so, maybe, maybe, he’ll be ready to play some minutes with us.”

Both Bellerin and Tierney lasted an hour of action unscathed as Arsenal’s under-23s drew 2-2 with Wolves last night.

Looking ahead to their return to Premier League action tomorrow, Arsenal have lost just one of their last 20 home games in the division, winning 20.

The Londoners are on a six-match winning streak against Villa, keeping a clean sheet in their past five meetings.

Villa, meanwhile, have lost their last nine away games in the top flight and are one game away from matching their club record of 10 straight defeats on the road set back in 1925.

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England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd monitoring Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka

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‘He is definitely on the radar’: England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd monitoring Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka

  • Bukayo Saka has made three Premier League starts already this campaign
  • The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of next month’s games
  • Arsenal team-mate Joe Willock believes it is only a matter of time before he plays

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s after bursting onto the scene this season.

Saka has made three Premier League starts already and scored during the 3-0 Europa League win at Frankfurt.

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania next month.

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania

‘He is definitely on the radar,’ manager Aidy Boothroyd said. ‘I saw him play against (Nottingham) Forest (last month). I know what he’s all about. He’ll do well enough before long.’

Arsenal team-mate Joe Willock believes it is only a matter of time before Saka makes the step up.

‘There are so many players coming through the ranks who are thriving with ability,’ Willock said. ‘Saka isn’t in the squad but he’s an amazing player and I’m sure he will be one day.’

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd



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Arsenal legend Ian Wright pinpoints the Unai Emery decision which ‘baffles’ him

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright is “baffled” by the lack of football played by Mesut Ozil so far this season.

Ozil has made just two appearances this term, starting the 2-2 Premier League draw with Watford and 5-0 Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest.

However, the German has not featured in head coach Unai Emery’s last three match day squads.

Emery has confirmed Ozil is not injured and his absence is purely down to selection.

Wright, though, wants to see the 31-year-old back in a Gunners shirt sooner or later.

The former striker claims even if Emery wants to sell Ozil in January, prospective clubs will want to have seen him in action recently.

“I want to see more offensive players on the pitch in positions where we’re going to be able to hurt teams,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

“I don’t know what’s happened with Ozil, I’m not sure that we as a club can afford to have a player of that calibre, paying what they’re paying him, which is always going to be mentioned, not even in the squad, not even there at all.

“Because if that’s the case then what’s he doing to that asset?

“Is he going to go in January? Is that what he’s trying to say to us?

“Because for me he should be playing, he should be involved and even if he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason, you’ve got to play him if you want to get rid of him simply because you want people to see that he’s still a quality player. So that one baffles me.”

Arsenal are back in Premier League action next Monday when they visit promoted side Sheffield United.

The Gunners are currently third in the table, eight games into the season, having won half their matches.

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Arsenal ace Eddie Nketiah backed to end Leeds United loan deal early

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Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has been backed by Darren Bent to look for a move elsewhere in January after struggling to nail down a spot during his loan spell at Leeds United.

Nketiah joined Championship side Leeds on a season-long loan from Arsenal during the summer transfer window.

He has scored four goals in his nine appearances under Marcelo Bielsa but is yet to start a league game.

And Bent does not want the 20-year-old to fall by the wayside like Saido Berahino did.

“[Nketiah] needs to be playing games,” Bent said on talkSPORT.

“We’ve seen for England Under-21s, we’ve seen over the years to be fair, a lot of strikers, you look at Saido Berahino, you look at his England Under-21 record, it’s as good as anyone’s, he couldn’t nail it down in the league.

“I think for Eddie Nketiah, he’s not playing at Leeds because [Patrick] Bamford’s in the way of him at the minute, and to be fair to Bamford he works extremely hard, and I think that’s the inly thing that’s keeping him in the team at the minute.

“Bielsa likes a hard-working side, he certainly puts defenders under pressure, shuts people down.

“But for someone like Nketiah and Arsenal Football Club, Arsenal are probably looking at this situation and saying ‘listen, we really believe in this kid but he needs to be playing games’.

“At the minute he’s got an impossible task trying to move [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Alexandre] Lacazette but he’s never going to get the opportunity to do that if he’s not playing games.

“So I think he may in January have a look at going somewhere else.”

Nketiah scored a hat-trick for the England Under-21s in the 5-1 win over Austria on Wednesday and he impressed former Spurs striker Bent.

“The first one was instinctive, the cross comes in, someone knocks it down, he was just in the right place at the right time, swivels, puts it in,” Bent added.

“The second one a header, again gets himself in the six-yard box between the centre-halves, no one really picks him up, comes in, great header into the far corner.

“And the last one was arguably my favourite, which is a tap in.”

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