Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is likely to miss the final five weeks of the Premier League season, manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday, dealing a blow to the club’s hopes of finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League.
The Ghana international, 28, has been a key player for Arsenal this season and was initially sidelined for a few weeks after sustaining a thigh injury during Arsenal’s 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace last week.
“The news that we got after another assessment is that it’s not looking very positive for his availability this season,” Arteta told reporters before Arsenal travel to Southampton on Saturday. “At the moment, we’re not very optimistic.”
Losing Partey for the run-in is another setback for the club with left back Kieran Tierney already ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury while right back Takehiro Tomiyasu, who last played in January, also remains sidelined.
Arsenal have slipped below neighbours Tottenham Hotspur to fifth place after back-to-back defeats by Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion but have a game in hand over their north London rivals.
Arteta’s side have eight league games remaining, starting with the trip to St Mary’s Stadium, with Arsenal also taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and hosting Manchester United later this month.
“The moment is not ideal and we knew that towards the end of the season, one of the key elements was going to be to have the squad available as much as possible,” Arteta said.
“We have a few issues with (Partey) and Tomiyasu but we have to continue to compete.”
Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette was absent from training this week but Arteta said he hoped the forward would feature in the game against Southampton, who are 14th in the league.
Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side are winless in their last five league games and lost 6-0 at home to Chelsea last weekend.
“I think you’re going to see two teams that are hurting because we are hurting after we lost the last two games, and we want to perform and win,” Arteta said.
“I’m sure that after their home defeat they had they will want to do the same.”