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Arsenal trying to adapt as absences pile up, says Arteta

FILE - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

FILE - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

Published Jan 12, 2022


London — Arsenal are struggling to adapt after losing several players to a combination of injuries, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and Covid-19, but the team is preparing as best they can to face Liverpool in the League Cup, manager Mikel Arteta said.

Arsenal face Liverpool in the first leg of their cup semi-final on Thursday and will be without midfielders Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, and Nicolas Pepe who are on international duty in Africa.

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Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also in Africa but has Covid-19.

Arsenal are also still awaiting confirmation that Granit Xhaka has recovered from the same illness, while Emile Smith Rowe is carrying an injury and is a doubt for the Liverpool game.

"It's extremely volatile and uncertain," Arteta told a news conference on Wednesday. "In the last week or so we lost so many players for many reasons and we're trying to adapt to that.

"There have been different reasons — some injuries, some Covid and some at AFCON. What I really want this month is that we have as many players fit and healthy and we do as much as possible with these players."

Arteta acknowledged there was a possibility the cup tie could be called off but said Arsenal were willing to play the match.

"You can never guarantee anything because you know that this changes dramatically in 10 seconds. Our willingness is always to play," he said.

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The manager said the club were looking to strengthen in the January adding that he was confident they could attract the players they needed, while confirming that forward Eddie Nketiah would not be leaving in this transfer window.

"Historically this club has always been targeting the best players in the world and they were always interested to come here. I can say that hasn't changed," Arteta said.

"Every time I've spoken to a player they were so willing to come. That's a big advantage for us."

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Arsenal are currently fourth in the league after a run of four wins and one defeat in their last five games.