Sunday, October 24, 2021

Arteta: Xhaka a ´big, big loss´ but Arsenal can cope in his absence

SoccerNews in English Premier League 30 Sep 2021

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka will be a “big, big loss” but insists the Gunners will cope in the absence of the midfielder.

Xhaka has been ruled out for up to three months after suffering a medial knee ligament injury during Sunday’s victory over north London rivals Tottenham.

The Switzerland international sustained the blow during an accidental collision with Lucas Moura, and subsequently limped off to be replaced by Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Xhaka is likely to miss the remainder of 2021, although the club confirmed he will not require surgery on the injury.

This is the latest setback for the 29-year-old, who had just returned from a three-match suspension following his red card at Manchester City last month, while he also contracted COVID-19 while on international duty with Switzerland recently.

Arteta is confident the midfielder will use the setback to his advantage, but is adamant there is enough quality within the squad to deal with his absence.

“Obviously, it’s really bad news personally for Granit,” the head coach said. 

“He’s a big, big loss. We’re going to lose him for a while. We’ll try to keep him as close as possible to the team. 

“He’s a strong man; he will use this time to focus on other things, and I’m sure he will be back in the right place when he’s back.

“We are here to help him, and I’m sure we’ll find some ways around it because we have some really good players who can do the job.”

With a trip to Brighton and Hove Albion coming up on October 2, Arteta could opt to revert to the 4-1-4-1 system he utilised in the 1-0 win over Burnley that saw Thomas Partey operate as a lone anchor, with Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard in front of him.

Should the Spaniard decide to bring in a like-for-like replacement for Xhaka instead, he has Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to choose from.

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