Arsenal suspension risk hands Mikel Arteta a selection headache for Liverpool amid injury worry

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Albert Sambi Lokonga will be walking the disciplinary tight-rope when Arsenal return to Premier League action.

The Gunners, who are now unbeaten in 10 games across all competitions following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Watford, have a couple of massive fixtures after the international break.

Either side of welcoming Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal face both Liverpool and Manchester United away from home where their recent resurgent will be put to the test.

First up is the trip to Anfield a week on Saturday as Mikel Arteta’s side aim to end a dismal run of results in this particular fixture having lost the last five in a row.

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Despite having relatively few injury problems to contend with ahead of the game against the Reds, the north London outfit do have Lokonga as the one key player who is walking the suspension tightrope.

As confirmed by the FA at the beginning of the season, any player who accumulates five bookings before the cut-off point of 19 matches will have to serve an automatic one-match ban.

With 11 games of the season gone, Lokonga and the rest of Arteta’s Premier League squad have another eight gameweeks to avoid a suspension.

However, because Lokonga is the only Arsenal player on four yellow cards – the last of which he picked up against the Hornets – in the Premier League this season, it means he has lost his safety net.

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Therefore if he is booked against Liverpool it will rule him out of the Newcastle clash a week later.

The only scenario in which he could miss the trip to Man United on December 2 – aside from a red card – is to be booked against the Magpies.



Kevin Friend shows a yellow card to Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga (L). (Image: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Kevin Friend shows a yellow card to Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga (L). (Image: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

As a result, Arteta has a big decision to make.

Does he start Lokonga against Liverpool and Newcastle, thus running the risk of the Belgium international picking up another yellow card that would rule him out of making the trip to Old Trafford?

With Thomas Partey sitting out the win over Watford and Granit Xhaka unavailable through injury, Arteta’s midfield options are looking a little thin at the moment so he may need to ask his £15m summer signing to watch his step and not mistime any tackles.

The next Arsenal player with the most yellow cards across the squad is captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is on two.

Cedric Soares, Gabriel Magalhaes, Benjamin White, Nuno Tavares, and Martin Odegaard are among those on one yellow card, so should be able to relax over the next few weeks.

Source by Football London

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