Tomiyasu in contention to return against United, says Arteta

Tomiyasu, 23, joined Arsenal from Bologna in August and made 17 appearances in all competitions before being sidelined with a calf injury.

Arsenal's Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu.   -  AFP

Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu is on track to play his first game since January on Saturday, manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday as his team prepare to host Premier League top-four rival Manchester United.

Tomiyasu, 23, joined Arsenal from Bologna in August and made 17 appearances in all competitions before being sidelined with a calf injury.

Arsenal boosted its chances of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2015-16 after Wednesday's win at Chelsea left it in fifth place with 57 points, three ahead of sixth-placed United.

"If Tomiyasu trains today and feels good, he will be available," Arteta told a news conference on Friday. "Today we are training late because of the turnaround (from Wednesday's game)."

Arteta said there were no new injury concerns ahead of United's visit to the Emirates Stadium but added he will make a late assessment on the fitness of captain Alexandre Lacazette.

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The forward was a late substitute in the win over Chelsea but missed last week's game at Southampton due to COVID-19.

"Lacazette trained yesterday and hopefully he will be there today," Arteta said. "After COVID, we have had players that have struggled for weeks. Hopefully, he can recover quickly."

Arsenal, which snapped a three-game losing streak with victory over Chelsea, could open up a six-point gap on United with a game in hand should it win on Saturday.

Arteta's side are level on points with Tottenham Hotspur, who play Brentford later on Saturday.

"I think it's going to have a lot of twists," Arteta said. "I am very excited about the option that we have ahead of us. We're going to give it a go and try our best to reach there."

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