Mikel Arteta says Thomas Partey will remain sidelined for a few more weeks but otherwise, Arsenal have a clean bill of health ahead of Sunday’s match with Everton at Goodison Park.
The Gunners had already hinted that the Ghana international would be absent following the international break having suffered a muscular problem linked to both his groin and thigh.
“He’s still a few weeks away,” said Arteta when quizzed about Partey in his pre-game press conference on Friday afternoon.
“He’s got a muscle injury and he’s progressing well but he’s still a few weeks away.”
Having had 17 players away on international duty since the 3-1 win over Manchester United, it’s been a nervous couple of weeks waiting for their return. Thankfully, they all came through unscathed.
“They’re all good, they all came back well, they all trained today, so they’re in a good place,” reported the boss.
There were suggestions earlier in the week that Bukayo Saka is currently nursing an achilles injury and that it was a factor in Gareth Southgate benching the winger for England’s midweek game with Scotland.
Arteta didn’t seem particularly concerned when asked about how serious it is.
“He’s fine, he trained normally today so there’s nothing to report. Every player has always pains or issues, it’s normal in elite sports, but nothing to worry about.”
The trip to Goodison Park kicks off a big week for the Gunners who host PSV Eindhoven at in the Champions League on Wednesday before the first North London derby of the season at Emirates Stadium next Sunday.
The boss is pumped but says it’s important to focus on each opponent one at a time.
“I’m really excited about it [the week ahead], obviously. First Everton, and that’s the only one we have in mind. Our record there speaks for itself, the last six years we haven’t won there, so we’re going to have to earn it.
“We know that we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them there, and it’s something that we haven’t managed to do. That’s where we’re going to start.”
Having played for the Toffees for six years, returns to Merseyside mean that bit more for the boss who says it’s a fixture he always looks out for.
“It’s a big emotional attachment [that I have] to that football club, the way they treated me, the years that I spent there, the incredible memories that I have,” he reflected.
“So, I’ll always be grateful. It was a big, big part of my playing career and now as a coach I have to play against them and I always want to beat them.”
Asked how his squad will cope with the rigours of playing every few days, the boss pointed to the fact his side’s schedule is as busy as normal.
“Well, it’s exactly the same as last year. We played every three days but it was the Europa League so the competition is different. Obviously, the demands of that competition and expectations are different, especially after being away from there for seven years. But it’s excitement. This is what we want to be.
“When you look at the fixtures and the games that we have to play, I think everybody is really looking forward to it. everybody is really looking forward to it.”