Mikel Arteta on huge double injury blow, COVID-19 impact and Arsenal's form ahead of Leeds United clash

The Gunners boss discusses his side's campaign so far amid a number of injury woes.

By Joe Urquhart
Saturday, 13th February 2021, 11:50 am

Mikel Arteta has opened on Arsenal's injury woes ahead of a top flight showdown with Leeds United and assessed the Gunners campaign so far.

The Whites travel to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League having leapfrogged their counterparts in the table on Monday night.

Leeds defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 at Elland Road, which saw Marcelo Bielsa's men jump into the top 10 at Arsenal's expense.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. Pic: Getty

Arteta has been dealt a huge double injury blow ahead of the fixture with midfielder Thomas Partey (hamstring) and full-back Kieran Tierney (leg strain) ruled out.

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno and defender David Luiz, though, will return after one match bans.

Partey has struggled for a run of games since his move from Athletico Madrid in the summer while Tierney has impressed this term.

"He (Partey) was devastated," Arteta told reporters.

"We were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas. We haven't had him since we signed him for three consecutive games. I think he’s only played 90 minutes once. It's a big blow for us but he's adapting to the league.

He's been very unlucky and he's been very frustrated because he's a really competitive guy who wants to feel important and be important for the team. At the moment the injuries are restricting a lot of game time for him

He came here obviously to a different league. Physically much more demanding than the Spanish league and he got injured.

"He wanted to get back, he got back and got injured again so his rhythm has been in and out. 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 up."

Asked about Tierney's absence, he said: "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.

When you have pain and you are not comfortable and you are someone like Kieran who does everything 100 miles per hour you need to be in the right condition. When someone like him tells you he doesn’t feel right, something is wrong, you worry because you know how much he wants it as well.

"He’s in a much better place now, the last few days he’s feeling better, he’s training he’s positive, he’s willing to come back early and help the team and hopefully we can have him soon."

After a pick up in form the Gunners are winless in their last three outings heading into this weekend's fixture with Bielsa's outfit and sit a disappointing 11th in the standings.

Arteta's squad has been hit by injuries but have also seen five players sent off this season, one of which was Nicolas Pepe in the return fixture in West Yorkshire.

"I don’t like to use any excuses," Arteta said of his side's campaign so far.

"It’s what it is, we have to do adapt and we have other players trying to do the job. But at certain moments you need some consistency, you need the team that has to play and you see all the successful teams they have some consistency in the starting eleven’s and get that chemistry, that cohesion, that togetherness there And we haven’t been able to do that.

"It’s the context, it’s the COVID, it’s a strange year, it’s a lot of factors there, but I think still we could be in a much better place just looking at what we’ve done in games ourselves and what we have given away.

"It’s unusual for us to have a week to prepare (for Leeds) but obviously we reviewed a lot of things we have done in recent weeks.

"The reason we won a lot of games and the reason we lost in a really strange way the last two games when we didn’t deserve to do it. But it’s completely down to us and we have to do better."