Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are missing ‘unpredictable’ Jurrien Timber & Thomas Partey | Football

Jurrien Timber injured his ACL 50 minutes into his Premier League debut (Photo: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has admitted that the absence of two Arsenal stars has been a ‘huge blow’ and made his side more ‘predictable’.

Arsenal have had to contend with a variety of different injury issues this season, with four players currently sidelined, and a further two absent because of international duty.

Nevertheless, they’ve have coped well and were top of the table at Christmas, though back-to-back losses to West Ham and Fulham have hurt their title hopes.

The Gunners are now fourth in the Premier League, five points off leaders Liverpool, with the two sides set to meet at the Emirates on Sunday in the FA Cup third-round.

It has been suggested that Arsenal’s style of play has become more stale in recent weeks, with six teams scoring more goals than Arteta’s team so far this campaign.

And the manager has suggested that this could be down to absence of Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey, who have only played a combined 301 league minutes this season because of injury.

Asked about Timber’s injury in his pre-match press conference, Arteta said the Dutch defender, who moved to the Emirates last summer for £34million, was going to change the way Arsenal played.

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Thomas Partey missed out on AFCON because of a hamstring injury (Photo: Getty)

‘[We saw] a little part of it. He was only available for pre-season and the first game of the season.

‘It was a huge blow. Everyone could see from day one what he was going to bring to the team. The versatility, the quality, the leadership. And an ability that we did not have in the backline.

‘It was a huge blow as well losing Thomas. We had other plans as well with him, to become very versatile and unpredictable in our way of playing.

‘We have not had them and that is difficult. We have them in the building, which is a joy. But we have not had them on the field as much as we wanted.

As Arteta alludes to, Timber injured his ACL just 50 minutes into his Premier League debut and is not expected to be back on the pitch until April at the earliest.

Defensive midfielder Partey has been affected with groin and hamstring issues, with the latter expected to sideline him until February, which has forced him to miss out on representing Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations.


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