“He is not available” – Arsenal boss confirms blow but key man could face Benfica

By on February 24, 2021

thomas partey arsenal

Mikel Arteta has confirmed Rob Holding will miss Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Benfica but Thomas Partey could be available tomorrow evening.

We head to Athens – where our ‘home’ leg will be played due to covid restrictions – following a 1-1 draw in the ‘away’ leg last week so Arsenal still have a lot of work to do in order to book our place in the last-16.

However, Arteta will have to make-do without Holding for the trip to Greece after the centre-back was forced off following a clash of heads during Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

Holding was taken off during the closing stages of the game as part of the new concussion substitution rules and Arsenal now have to follow the protocols meaning the defender won’t be available to face Benfica.

However, there is better news regarding the fitness of Partey. The midfielder hasn’t featured in any of Arsenal’s last three games after suffering a hamstring injury against Aston Villa earlier this month.

But the Ghanaian international was given the green light to resume full training this week and Arteta has confirmed he’s now close to returning to action. As long as he comes through a fitness test today, Partey will be available to take on Benfica tomorrow.

Speaking at his press conference today, Arteta told Arsenal.com:

“Thomas is very close. He’s got a final test today in training. If he’s feeling good, he will be available to play the match.

“Regarding Rob, he’s not available. He had a concussion, we tested him and he’s completely fine but obviously now we need to follow the protocols and he won’t be able to travel.”

It’s a blow to lose Holding as he’s been a regular under Arteta this season but luckily we have options at centre-back with Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Gabriel and Callum Chambers all available on Thursday evening.

Partey’s return to fitness is a huge boost so let’s hope he’s passed fit to travel for the Benfica game. This match should be our priority now as winning the Europa League is the only way we can salvage something from this season.