Arteta Provide Update on Partey’s Availability for Man City Clash

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Kieran Tierney runs with the ball in Arsenal training
Kieran Tierney runs with the ball in Arsenal training

Mikel Arteta has confirmed Kieran Tierney has travelled with Arsenal to Rome and could feature against Benfica but Thomas Partey is yet to recover from his thigh injury and will play no part in this evening’s Europa League last-32 first leg.

Tierney has been sidelined since mid-January after suffering a strain to his lower leg and the north London have struggled in the full-back’s absence, losing three of their last six games in all competitions.

And while Cedric Soares has performed adequately out of position at left-back, Arteta and Arsenal supporters will have breathed a collective sigh of relief as Tierney returned to training this week.

Tierney has been one of Arsenal’s most potent attacking weapons this season, with his relentless energy and delivery from the left flank, and the Gunners could be tempted to thrown him back in at the Stadio Olimpico tonight.

However, Partey – who missed Arsenal’s 4-2 victory over Leeds United at the weekend – must wait for his return to first-team action.

‘Thomas didn’t travel. He’s not there yet, he’s still training individually,’ Arteta said when asked about Arsenal’s injury concerns at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday. ‘Kieran has had one session with us and he is part of the squad.’

Arteta said he had ‘big respect’ for Benfica and their manager, Jorge Jesus, and expects a ‘really difficult’ clash with the Primeira Liga outfit. ‘What I can say is that they’re a really competitive team, a really high rhythm team, high press and very dominant when you allow them to do it,’ the Spaniard added.

‘They have very aggressive attacking players and when they have the space to attack and they are close to the final third, they are really dangerous.

‘They have a manager with a huge history in football and some of the players know him really well so big respect. ‘They’re going to be a really difficult opponent.’

Asked whether had spoken to Soares and Luiz about their former club Benfica, Arteta replied: ‘Yes, of course.

‘I’m always interested to see about the history, about how they get coached and the culture of the team. ‘So it’s always useful to have opinions from players that know the league and the team so well.’

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