Mikel Arteta admits that Arsenal are “devastated” that Thomas Partey has not been able to progress this season due to injury problems.
Arsenal chased Partey all summer and finally signed him from Atletico Madrid in October. He was expected to be the missing ingredient in their midfield.
However, he has been unable to build up a rhythm due to a number of injury setbacks. The latest will rule him out for a couple of weeks.
The Ghana international will definitely miss the game against Leeds at the weekend. He is also unlikely to play in either leg of their Europa League clash with Benfica and their Premier League battle with title challengers Manchester City.
Partey has only started nine of the 19 Premier League games Arsenal have played since his arrival. It has led to a frustrating situation for Arteta.
Speaking about the 27-year-old’s latest setback, Arteta said: “We were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas.
“We haven’t had him since we signed him for three consecutive games. It’s a big blow for us but he’s adapting to the league.
“He hasn’t had a pre-season and probably hasn’t had the type of preparation needed for such a change and then his anxiety willing to do so well, to feel important, he’s a big signing. All those things add.
“He broke down again, we need to be patient now and he needs to recover properly because it’s going to be key for us to have him available towards the end of the season.”
Arsenal will also be without Kieran Tierney for their game against Leeds. The left-back has been integral this season, so his absence will be another blow.
Arteta was unable to put a timeframe on his return, but confirmed the Scotland international is in good spirits.
He said: “We’re going to have to see how the knee reacts when he starts to get a little bit more load. He hasn’t done much yet.
“He’s very positive at the moment. He’s in great spirits, he’s desperate to get back on the team. We will see in the next few days the moment he starts to train more with the team how that knee is feeling and react a lot.”
Mat Ryan could keep place
In Arsenal’s last game, a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, Mat Ryan made his debut for the club in goal.
After arriving from Brighton to compete with Bernd Leno, the Australian conceded less than two minutes into his debut. However, he did not let it affect him and earned praise from his manager for the rest of his performance.
Asked if Ryan could start again against Leeds, Arteta said: “Well, I think Mat played a really good game. For the first game he played with us after little training I think he was really good.
“I really like the way he reacted because to concede a goal on your debut so early and still react the way he did, it shows a lot of character from him.
“So that’s why we brought him here because he has to be an option, and he has to keep pushing Bernd.”
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