Home Sports Football Declan Rice & Oleksandr Zinchenko injuries: Progress & potential return date for Arsenal duo

Declan Rice & Oleksandr Zinchenko injuries: Progress & potential return date for Arsenal duo

Declan Rice & Oleksandr Zinchenko injuries: Progress & potential return date for Arsenal duo


The foundations for Arsenal’s red-hot start to last term were laid during pre-season.

As early as July, Mikel Arteta had established the first-choice XI which would earn the club 50 points from their first 19 Premier League games. However, this year’s summer calibration has been compromised by niggling injuries to a number of individuals that would surely be a part of Arteta’s A-team.

Club-record signing Declan Rice and first-choice left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko were both conspicuous by their absence during Arsenal’s bonkers 5-3 friendly win against Barcelona.

With the club’s pre-season US tour concluded and the first competitive game of the new season hurtling over the horizon, here’s everything you need to know about the fitness of two key cogs in Arteta’s machine.

After the laborious negotiations with West Ham were mercifully concluded on the eve of the team’s US tour, Rice made his first appearance for Arsenal off the bench against MLS All-Stars. The 24-year-old started against Manchester United but failed to make the squad for the Californian clash with Barcelona.

Once Arteta had caught his breath following a helter-skelter contest with his former side, he revealed: “Dec had quite a strong kick in training so we didn’t want to take the risk. He wasn’t really comfortable to train yesterday and we decided not to train.”

Rice’s durability is one of his great strengths. Since the start of the 2018/19 season, only James Tarkowski has racked up more Premier League minutes than the former West Ham skipper. Arteta is inherently reluctant to divulge too much information about injured players but it isn’t thought that the knock Rice sustained in training is a major concern.

With that in mind, he could even be available for their next pre-season outing.

Oleksandr Zinchenko

Oleksandr Zinchenko missed 78 days of last season through injury / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Zinchenko missed the final three weeks of last season with a calf complaint but was encouragingly included in Arsenal‘s pre-season squad. However, the Ukraine international is yet to make a single appearance this summer.

“Alex had a little muscular issue, unfortunately,” Arteta explained. “I think he will be back soon but it’s a shame he hasn’t been with us the whole tour.”

The former Manchester City fullback left the Etihad in search of first-team opportunities but sat out 17 club matches for Arsenal through injury last season – almost all of which were affecting that same pesky calf muscle.

Arteta’s typically vague assurance that Zinchenko “will be back soon” leaves plenty of room for interpretation. The Gunners conclude their pre-season campaign with the traditional Emirates Cup against Monaco on Wednesday 2 August. Just four days later, Arsenal will be up against City – the club that pipped them to last season’s Premier League title – in the Community Shield.

It’s impossible to determine an accurate timeline for Zinchenko, but it would be a surprise if he were to start a game before the new Premier League season gets underway.


Arsenal’s pre-season has been defined by friendlies that are decidedly unfriendly.

While these prestige matches in front of foreign crowds should theoretically serve as a safe setting for tactical experimentation and building fitness, Arsenal’s final two encounters on their US tour were unusually competitive.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez flagged Arsenal’s “intensity” following the 5-3 defeat in Los Angeles. Xavi’s insistence that the Gunners treated the contest “like a Champions League tie” – which “was not normal for a friendly” – was not entirely complimentary.

Arsenal committed 22 of the 34 fouls against Barcelona but suffered just as many during a 2-0 loss to Manchester United five days earlier. Lisandro Martinez, who also found himself in a “tiff” with Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, left Bukayo Saka in a heap during one particularly egregious example of foul play.

The Premier League runners-up opened their pre-season with a comparatively gentle schedule against second-tier German side FC Nurnberg and MLS All-Stars.

When fitness has allowed, Arteta has fielded a strong starting XI for Arsenal’s ‘friendlies’ in search of a formula to go one step further next season. Yet, injury – which proved to be a factor in last term’s collapse – hasn’t plagued Arteta again this summer.


On this edition of The Chronicles of a Gooner, part of the 90min podcast network, Harry Symeou discusses reports of a deal being close for Gremio’s Bitello, Declan Rice’s interview & the latest on Mohammed Kudus.

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!


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