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Who is the Arsenal youth left-back Joel Lopez spotted in first team training after Kieran Tierney injury?

Who is the Arsenal youth left-back Joel Lopez spotted in first team training after Kieran Tierney injury?

Arteta hints at back 3

It has been confirmed by Arsenal head coach and manager Mikel Arteta that the Scottish international Kieran Tierney has suffered an injury serious enough to keep him out of play for possibly up to 6 weeks.

Arteta was asked if Tierney’s absence could see Arsenal return to playing with a back 3 and responded with a seemingly open mind to the idea.

“The team has to have the flexibility to adjust when it’s needed,” Arteta said. “Sometimes because of what the opposition is doing and sometimes just to adapt the quality of the players that we have.

“Sometimes because opponents cannot just predict what we are going to do. So there are different ways of doing that and we have to be flexible.”

Being flexible may mean the possibility of Bukayo Saka playing in a left-wing back role. Hector Bellerin could be recalled to play as a right-wing back. The Spaniard hasn’t been in regular use with Calum Chambers preferred for his defensive qualities.

Who is Joel Lopez?

Arsenal released images of their training sessions ahead of the match against Slavia Prague on Thursday which revealed the inclusion of youth team left-back Joel Lopez.

101 have produced a player profile on the former Barcelona full-back including expert insight from Arsenal youth assessment site Next Generation Arsenal (NGA).

Within it, NGA speaks of how the 19-year-old still has much to learn and show but has promise.

“Is he ready? His performances in the U23s this season have seen some adversity but also some hopeful displays. The biggest issue Joel faced was finding some consistency, he’s struggled with injuries and the physical side of the game in general,” says NGA.

“In terms of technical ability, his strengths are clear. He’s always graceful in possession and can move well with the ball at pace. The Spaniard is always keen to get forward and make an impact in the final third and he’s shown quality in his final ball.

“Defending does not always come easy to the 18-year-old. Positioning and 1-1 duels have often seen Lopez leaving a lot to be desired. It’s clear he needs more experience in the PL2 to further his development, it would be a big risk to play him in the first team currently, but one that could go either way.”

Whilst it makes sense for Lopez to be prepared for an emergency call up, as NGA points out, he is still very raw and it would be a huge risk to throw him in at such a pivotal stage of the season for Arsenal.

The likelihood is that Arsenal will either persist with the unorthodox choice of Cedric who has had some good performances earning a recall to the Portuguese national side, or to switch to the aforementioned back three.

Joel Lopez: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

Explanation provided for Joel Matip’s absence from Liverpool squad to take on Man United

This article was edited by Robert Fosterman.

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Arsenal 3/1 7/4
Fulham 17/2
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1 Manchester City FC 32 44 74
2 Manchester United FC 31 27 63
3 Leicester City FC 31 18 56
4 West Ham United FC 32 11 55
5 Chelsea FC 31 19 54
6 Liverpool FC 31 16 52
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 32 17 50
8 Everton FC 31 3 49
9 Arsenal FC 31 8 45
10 Leeds United 31 0 45
11 Aston Villa FC 30 10 44
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 31 -10 38
13 Crystal Palace FC 31 -19 38
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15 Newcastle United FC 32 -18 35
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 31 -5 33
17 Burnley FC 31 -17 33
18 Fulham FC 32 -18 26
19 West Bromwich Albion 31 -31 24
20 Sheffield United FC 31 -38 14
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Player Team Goals
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Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 19
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 16
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 14
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 14
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 14
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 12
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 12
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 10
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 10
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Ings, Danny Southampton FC 9
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City FC 9
Barnes, Harvey Leicester City FC 9
Lingard, Jesse West Ham United FC 9
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Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick Arsenal FC 9
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