Arsenal have been given a welcome lift with the news that Declan Rice’s injury is not serious. The midfielder was withdrawn at half-time in the draw with Tottenham on Sunday but is understood to have experienced a back spasm and hopes to be back for the visit to Bournemouth on Saturday.
It will be a relief for Mikel Arteta, who admitted it was “strange” to see a player of Rice’s robustness have to be substituted. His replacement, Jorginho, made the error that led to Son Heung-min’s equaliser, but Rice should now have the chance to build on his impressive start to the campaign since arriving from West Ham.
Arteta is already beset by injury concerns. He will miss Jurrien Timber for at least the next few months while Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard and Thomas Partey also missed the Spurs game. “It was already a test today because we missed five big players,” he said afterwards.
Arsenal play four times in the next 13 days and will make changes for the least consequential of those assignments, a Carabao Cup third-round tie at Brentford on Wednesday. Key first-team players are unlikely to be risked, with the focus lying on ensuring an early four-point gap to the leaders and champions Manchester City grows no bigger.