Arsenal will be without Thomas Partey for their Premier League opener, and they could be forced into a rethink over their plans.
The midfielder suffered an ankle injury in the first half of Arsenal’s pre-season friendly defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, with Mikel Arteta not optimistic when asked about Partey after the game.
‘I just had a talk with the doctor. He’ll have a scan tomorrow,’ explained the Spaniard. ‘At the moment it’s not looking good because he was in pain and he could not continue which for Thomas is pretty unusual.’
According to football.london, Partey will miss the club’s Premier League opening game against Brentford while his participation against Chelsea the week later is also in doubt.
Although the injury is not considered to be a serious one, Partey will be touch and go to return to full fitness by the end of this month, meaning Arsenal’s third game of the campaign against Manchester City also has a question mark by it.
However, There is also optimism that the player could return sooner than expected if his recovery goes exactly to plan.
It has created a short-term problem for Arteta though, leaving him with just four central midfielders: Granit Xhaka, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Joe Willock and Elneny.
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Arsenal have been looking at either selling or loaning Willock to Newcastle again, but any move for the player is likely to be delayed until the very end of the window otherwise Arteta will be left with few midfield options for the campaign.
Newcastle still believe they can lure Willock back to St James’ Park, but right now he is a genuine option for Arteta this season while Ainsley Maitland-Niles – who is deemed surplus to requirements – may also be kept as cover for the first three matches with a transfer then happening in the final days of the window.
When asked about the futures of Willock and Bellerin, Arteta said: ‘I don’t know. I’m going to coach them and train them, and respect and look after everybody because they are our players.
‘Hopefully they can have their minds here and prepare here because they are Arsenal players and our job is to make them as good as we can.’