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Emile Smith Rowe has suffered a knock in training, which will keep him out of Arsenal’s final Europa League group stage game against Qarabag.
Arsenal made no mention of an injury to the midfielder in their most recent team news update, but Youth Expert Jeorge Bird spotted that the youngster wasn’t in training photos, and he hasn’t been for a couple of weeks now.
An Arsenal source then confirmed to Football.London that Smith Rowe suffered an injury in training. The source insisted it’s just a knock, and the 18-year-old should be back soon. Hopefully, he’ll be available for selection during the busy Christmas period, and he should certainly get a game when the first FA Cup fixture rolls around in January.
For Arsenal’s clash with Qarabag, however, they’ll have to look elsewhere for starters. Perhaps Bukayo Saka could make his senior Emirates Stadium debut, after coming on in the front three against FC Vorskla last month.
The 17-year-old has five goals and seven assists in 991 academy minutes this season, a goal contribution every 83 minutes. Joe Willock recently described Saka as “one of the most talented players we have in the (u23) team”.
Having watched him for the u18s and the u23s a lot in the last year or so, I’d definitely agree with that assessment. There are few players in the academy, or even in the first team, who can both beat a man and provide a final ball as well as Saka can. He just needs experience now.
Unai Emery could well play it safe from the start though, giving chances to Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. We’ll have to wait and see on Thursday night.