Arsenal are facing a goalkeeping crisis ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa.
First-choice stopper Bernd Leno will miss the game at Villa Park due to suspension after being sent-off in the 2-1 loss at Wolves earlier in the week for deliberate handball.
Who will replace the German remains to be seen as Arsenal could find themselves with just one fit senior goalkeeper for the Villa as they seek to avenge the 3-0 loss from the reverse meeting earlier in the season.
With Mat Ryan struggling with a hip injury, there is a chance that Runar Alex Runarsson could be starting in goal just days after making his Premier League debut as a substitute at Molineux Stadium.
“He’s not been available to train yet and Alex is available so we will have a choice to make for the weekend,” Arteta confirmed. “Yes, if Mat is able to train and they are both fit then we have a decision to make.
“If Mat is not fit then obviously Alex will be in goal.”
If Ryan is ruled out then Arteta’s options will be limited as a U23’s goalkeeper will be in line for a call-up to make the matchday squad at Villa Park.
Luckily, Arteta does have several options, although none include any first-team experience.
Karl Jakob Hein and Arthur Okonkwo could be in contention to be the back-up goalkeeper this weekend, while Dejan Iliev has recently returned from a loan spell at Shrewsbury Town.
However, the latter will have needed to be named in the 25-man Premier League squad in order to be selected.
A possible hint may have been provided in the image above as Okonkwo seems closest to a first-team breakthrough after being spotted in the training sessions that Ryan has not been able to take part in.
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Yet, judging by Arteta’s team selection for a few Europa League games this season, Hein could get the nod.
The 18-year-old was named on the bench for both wins over Dundalk and made the trip to Norway for the 3-0 win against Molde.
It remains to be seen who gets the nod out of Okonkwo and Hein if Ryan can’t make the squad, but signs are pointing towards one Arsenal wonderkid being called up to answer the goalkeeping crisis against Aston Villa.