Arsene Wenger hasn’t completely ruled Mikel Arteta out of Sunday’s final league game of the season against Newcastle United but admits the chances of the Spaniard participating are minimal.
With 42 starts to his name across all competitions the midfielder has been a stable figure in the heart of midfield and the club’s de-facto captain in the absence of the benched Thomas Vermaelen. It is likely that Aaron Ramsey will deputise in the holding midfield role with Wenger confirming that Jack Wilshere could well make the trip north with the club prepared to postpone the removal of a screw from his ankle for one more week.
“For the weekend, we have the uncertainty over Mikel Arteta, who had to come off just before the end of the Wigan game with a calf strain,” Wenger told Arsenal.com.
“Honestly, his chances of being available are minimal. I have to be realistic and prepare for another solution. Everybody else should be alright. There are no other real uncertainties.
“He is an option yes,” continued the boss, referencing Wilshere’s inclusion. “We will monitor him until Sunday and I will make a decision very late over what I will do.”
Olivier Giroud will also return to the squad having served the three game suspension for his red card against Fulham.
Injury forced Arteta to miss the last four games of last season’s tense race for a Champions League place with his teammates stumbling to three consecutive draws in his absence before regaining their composure (just) against West Brom to snatch the 3-2 win that sealed third. Naturally he’ll be a huge loss again this time, but with Ramsey improving after a lengthy run in the side we should have enough to cope.
It’ll be interesting to see who the boss selects as captain and presumably he’ll have to nominate another penalty taker.