Mikel Arteta has provided a fitness update on his side ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final first leg with Villarreal.
Arsenal host the Spanish side in the first leg of their last four encounter tomorrow evening, as the north Londoners seek to progress to a second Europa League final in just three seasons.
Arteta’s options have been boosted by the returns of several senior stars to training, with the Spaniard revealing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney are all in contention to feature at the Emirates.
”They are all in contention. All of them. Including Aubameyang, Laca and Kieran. They are all in contention for the game. Yes [it is good news],” Arteta told his pre-match press conference.
Tierney’s return appears to be some way ahead of schedule after fears the full-back would miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a knee injury in the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool earlier this month.
Aubameyang is continuing his recovery after being hospitalised with malaria, whilst the in-form Lacazette limped off during the draw with Fulham on April 18 with a hamstring problem.
Arteta was asked if the trio were a risk given their recent fitness issues and insisted he would not field any player not capable of performing, though reiterated that his returning stars are players capable of making a ‘difference’.
“We do need them, because we know that we have some players that are in contention and they are the ones who can make the difference in a big tie like this,” he added.
“But the word risk, I don’t like to put players on the pitch if they can’t perform and they can’t feel secure that they can perform.
“If it’s a risk or we’re going to take a gamble, then I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”