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Mikel Arteta believes Jurrien Timber could still have a part to play in Arsenal’s Premier League title run-in – despite not playing since August.

The defender is back in contention for Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth having worked his way back to fitness following a serious knee injury suffered on his league debut against Nottingham Forest.

Having returned to training and improved his fitness levels by turning out for the Under-21s, Arteta revealed the 22-year-old will be part of his squad against the Cherries.

Jurrien Timber
Timber, centre, ruptured his ACL on his Premier League debut in August (Adam Davy/PA)

“Everybody is fit and available so now it’s the headache to make the right selection,” he said.

Asked if Timber’s return could be a timely boost to the squad as the title fight heads into a final three weeks, Arteta added: “Yes, because it increases the quality of the training sessions.

“You see how commanding he is, his leadership, his quality and the rest they have to lift it up and they start to demand more from each other and they look at each other and say ‘I better be good because I want to keep playing,’ and this is very positive for the squad.

“It’s tricky because there are only three games to go and he has missed eight months of football.

“He’s played only 150 minutes of football with the under-21s, it’s a question that can only be resolved by throwing him on the pitch and we will see what happens, we have to try to nail that decision.”

Arsenal head into the weekend a point clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, although the Gunners have played a game more.

Victory over Bournemouth would at least mean they remain at the summit until the final week of the campaign as Arsenal target a first title in 20 years.

Gabriel Jesus won four league titles at City before joining Arsenal in 2022, but there has been suggestions he could be set to be put up for sale again this summer.

Arteta, though, was quick to quash such rumours and was bullish when asked if he had any intention of letting the Brazil forward leave.

“No, no. I don’t know where this is coming from,” he said.

Arsenal were ultimately reeled in by City last season despite leading the way for much of the season, when a last-gasp winner over Bournemouth kept the hopes alive.

Reiss Nelson hit an stoppage-time goal as Arsenal came from two goals down to win – but Arteta would happily take a more straightforward outcome this time around.

“I have a different game in my head for tomorrow,” he said.

“But we are going to have to perform really well and be at our best and if we do that we have a really good chance of winning the game.

“The probability of winning matches when you leave it so late is less. We’ve been better this season at deciding matches much earlier.

“That’s probably a good sign for the team that they can control games and decide them earlier. Hopefully we can do the same in the deciding fixtures.”