Mikel Arteta hopes to have Emile Smith Rowe available for Thursday’s Europa League clash against Olympiacos.
Smith Rowe was forced off with a hip injury during the 3-1 win over Leicester City at the end of February, missing last Saturday’s draw with Burnley as a result of the knock.
While there was initial concern the 20-year-old attacking midfielder may have suffered a serious injury, scans last week confirmed there was no significant damage. Arteta now says the player is close to being available once again.
Should Thursday’s first leg round of 16 clash against the Greek giants come too soon for Smith Rowe, Arteta will hope to have him available for Sunday’s north London derby with Tottenham.
Arsenal were dumped out of the Europa League by the same opposition at the last 32 stage last season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing a huge chance in the final seconds of the contest that would have sent the Gunners through.
‘Obviously it was a really tough one to swallow,’ Arteta said. ‘The way it happened at the end, it was really cruel.
‘After everything we did in the two games, to lose the way we did and with the late chance Auba had… but we moved on. We have some feelings towards that team and we want to put it right in the next round. ‘I think we are a better team than we were last year. Looking back at the two games that we played and the way we are playing now, I think we have come a long way.’