Arsenal’s senior loanees hit by injury crisis

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: Nuno Tavares of Nottingham Forest leaves the pitch due to injury during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Nottingham Forest at Etihad Stadium on September 23, 2023. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Arsenal sent a large number of players out on loan for the 2023/24 campaign, and six of them could arguably be called senior players: Kieran Tierney, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Runar Alex Runarsson, Marquinhos, and Arthur Okonkwo.

Tavares (Nottingham Forest) and Lokonga (Luton Town) remained in the Premier League, Tierney (Real Sociedad) went to Spain, Marquinhos (Nantes) to France, and Runarsson (Cardiff City) and Okonkwo (Wrexham) dropped down to the English lower leagues.

But so far, most of those six loan moves aren’t going to plan.

Albert Sambi Lokonga with Luton Town (Photo via Lokonga on Instagram)
Albert Sambi Lokonga with Luton Town (Photo via Lokonga on Instagram)

The primary problem has been a number of recent injuries.

Lokonga revealed at the end of September that he’ll be out for a couple of months, Tavares will be back at some undetermined point after the international break, and Tierney is set to miss at least a month.

That’s already half of the group out of action, and two of the other three aren’t playing matches either.

Runarsson is fully fit, but he doesn’t seem to have a clear path to break into Cardiff City’s team ahead of Jak Alnwick.

Then there’s Marquinhos, who had only made one start in seven games before news broke that he was going to spend a few weeks away from the club with Brazil’s u23s for the Pan American Games.

He should play regularly with Brazil, but he’s not doing much for his chances of integration in a Nantes side he was already struggling to feature in.

Nantes' Brazilian forward #10 Marquinhos runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Nantes and Marseille at the Stade de la BeaujoireLouis Fonteneau in Nantes, western France on September 1, 2023. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Nantes’ Brazilian forward #10 Marquinhos runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Nantes and Marseille at the Stade de la BeaujoireLouis Fonteneau in Nantes, western France on September 1, 2023. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The only senior Arsenal loanee starting regularly is Okonkwo, who has played Wrexham’s last three league fixtures in a row, keeping clean sheets in both matches in October.

That loan appears to be going well, with the caveat that the 22-year-old had to drop down to the English fourth tier to get these minutes.

After a successful spell in the Austrian first division with Sturm Graz, it was somewhat surprising to see Okonkwo returning to League Two, where he’d previously spent time with Crewe Alexandra.

That being said, Okonkwo is still very young for a goalkeeper, and it’s good to see him getting games.

It’s the other five players who are more of a concern right now.

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