ARSENAL are sweating over Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final clash with Liverpool going ahead and will decide tomorrow whether to request a postponement.
Manager Mikel Arteta is counting his walking wounded to see if he can scrape a team together after Sunday’s scheduled game at Spurs was called off.
The Gunners are desperate to play on Thursday night but will not gamble on the fitness of a number of borderline players.
They were without 14 players at the weekend due to a combination of Covid, injuries, international call-ups and suspension.
And despite Tottenham’s suggestions to the contrary, they were not even close to being able to meet the Premier League requirements of 13 outfield players plus a goalkeeper.
Now they will assess the recovery of a number of key players during their next two training sessions before calculating if they will have enough bodies to go ahead with the second leg of Thursday’s semi-final.
Martin Odegaard will have completed his isolation period after contracting Covid last week and should return as long as he provides a negative test.
But at least one other player tested positive over the weekend and will definitely not be allowed to play on Thursday.
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And there are still doubts lingering over the availability of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares and Sead Kolasinac.
None of them are suffering from major longer-term injuries but have been affected by a series of stresses and strains accumulated over the past few weeks.
The club have had to cope with 11 senior players contracting Covid over the last 27 days and being forced to play others who were in the red zone as a consequence.
But Arteta is anxious to avoid yet another postponement of an Emirates semi-final which was scheduled to be played two weeks ago until Liverpool suffered 40 false positive Covid tests.
Arsenal already have four Premier League fixtures to reschedule against Wolves, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool.
And with an international break looming next week and the Carabao Cup final scheduled for February 27, there would precious little time to rearrange their semi-final for a second time.
Arsenal are also mindful of the travel arrangements of the visiting Liverpool supporters and want to make a decision on Thursday’s game as quickly as possible.
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