Mikel Arteta provides injury update on key Arsenal duo ahead of Everton clash
Mikel Arteta updates Arsenal fans on the fitness of Granit Xhaka and Emile Smith Rowe as the Gunners prepare for their trip to Everton
Granit Xhaka is closing in on a return to action for Arsenal after his lay-off with a knee injury, Mikel Arteta has confirmed.
Xhaka has been out of action since suffering the injury during the 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the end of September but the midfielder could now make his return to the team sooner rather than later.
The 29-year-old, who had started four Premier League games before picking up the knee problem, could even be involved when Arsenal travel to face Everton in the Premier League on Monday night.
Asked about how Xhaka is progressing, Arteta said ahead of Monday’s trip to Merseyside: “He is progressing well, he is doing all the right things and he’s feeling better but no more news on that.
“It’s very positive because the evolution he is doing is great, he is partially training with the team and he is heading in the right direction.”
Pressed on whether Xhaka could return in time for the clash against the Toffees, Arteta replied: “This week he has progressed again to a different level, and tomorrow [Sunday] we will assess how he is, have a conversation with him and decide when is the best moment to start to give him some exposure in games.
“We miss him, he is one of our leaders, one of the senior players who adds something very valuable to the team and hopefully we can have him back soon.”
Meanwhile, Emile Smith Rowe was set to undergo a late fitness test after he picked up a knock 3-2 loss to Manchester United last time out.
“He had some discomfort during the game [at Old Trafford] and we decided to take him off,” said Arteta when asked about Smith Rowe.
“He’s been evolving well over the last few days, so we have to wait until tomorrow [Sunday] to see how he is.”
Meanwhile, Arteta has admitted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s stuttering form is a cause for concern for the Gunners.
The Gabon international has not found the net in five games for the Gunners, with his last goal coming in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa back in October.
Aubameyang has scored four goals and made one assist in 13 Premier League games this season and Arteta has admitted that the striker’s goal drought is a problem.
“You are always [concerned] when your main striker isn’t scoring goals but he is trying his hardest,” Arteta said.
“He is aware of how much we need him as a team to score goals and, at the moment, they are not coming but the rest of the things we are asking him to do, he is trying his best.”