Arsenal star makes surprise return to training ahead of Brighton clash

Oleksandr Zinchenko is in contention to hand Mikel Arteta an unlikely fitness boost ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Brighton.

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Reports earlier this week claimed the Ukraine international was set to miss the rest of the season, along with William Saliba, after he picked up a calf injury in last weekend’s win over Newcastle.

While Arteta conceded the game would come too soon for Saliba, he was a little more guarded on the chances of Zinchenko featuring against the Seagulls at his pre-match press conference.

He said: ‘We have another session tomorrow before the Brighton game, and we are trying to get players back for that.

‘Today we haven’t trained on the pitch, so we’ll know more tomorrow. 

‘With William, it’s for sure that he’s not going to be fit for this game and we are doubting whether he will be fit for the next game as well.

‘But we want to keep the hope going and make sure that we give ourselves the best chance of having them back.’

But Zinchenko gave his manager a surprise boost on Saturday when he was pictured alongside Jorginho and Gabriel Jesus during first team training.

Arsenal still maintain slim hopes of catching Manchester City at the top of the table but will require a helping hand from Everton who entertain the champions in Sunday’s early kick-off.

The Gunners will find it far from straightforward in their bid to keep up the pressure though given Brighton have lost only one of their last five games at the Emirates in all competitions.

‘They have a really clear vision, they’ve been ahead of many other clubs in the way they have handled and made decisions,’ said Arteta. ‘The way they have developed players, recruited talent, the way they have set up the club, the people that they recruit as well is really impressive. I think they have done extremely well.

‘The level of every organisation is much better than it was been before. The level of the players, the staff and the coaches – everything has improved. Physically it’s much more demanding, and every detail and every phase of play is dominated in the right way by every opponent.

‘That makes the game fascinating because there are a lot of things that can go your way or not go your way in the small margins, and that is the Premier League right now for every team.’

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