Jurrien Timber’s knee injury, sustained against Nottingham Forest in the first Premier League game of the season, will have come as a disastrous blow to Arsenal.
Timber looked set to play a big role in Mikel Arteta’s squad throughout the campaign. However, he is now heading for a significant spell on the sidelines. With Oleksandr Zinchenko also struggling for fitness, and Kieran Tierney’s future at the Emirates Stadium in doubt. Arsenal are already facing something of a crisis when it comes to depth at left-back.
Beyond Timber, Tierney, and Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior are the only senior options who can play in the role. Neither, though, are as comfortable or natural there as they are elsewhere on the pitch. Both could also be called upon to cover at centre-back, and Tomiyasu is now also the only natural back-up to Ben White at right-back, where Timber might also have slotted in.
As reported by the Evening Standard, Arsenal are considering returning to the transfer market to account for Timber’s unexpected absence. However, the Spanish coach will also be open to any internal solutions to the lack of squad depth he now has at full-back.
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Sousa being prepared for Zinchenko’s role
On the left-hand side of the defence, Lino Sousa could provide some vital depth. The 18-year-old was considered an “outstanding” prospect at his former club, West Bromwich Albion. What’s more, he has been training to operate in the inverted left-back role that Zinchenko has flourished in at Arsenal.
Speaking to The Athletic, Sousa explained that he has been learning from the Ukrainian international. He said, “positionally, I never came inside at West Brom, so it was new when I came here and I’m still learning. If you do it in training, you feel more comfortable in games because essentially, you’re seeing the same pictures. I focus on my body shape, angles and scanning to know what’s around me…I speak to Zinny (Zinchenko) as well. Both him and Tierney are really nice and helpful in training. It’s what Mikel wants, so whatever the first team do, we try to mirror it to prepare ourselves to make the big step up.”
In Arsenal’s time of need at left-back following the loss of Timber, Arteta may consider Sousa a viable option to call upon.
Meanwhile, Reuell Walters is a versatile 18-year-old who can play at both centre-back and right-back. He has been named on the bench by Arteta on a number of occasions in the past. He may be due for a loan move, but if he stays with the Gunners he could be in contention to make his debut this season.