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"We're not very optimistic" - Mikel Arteta reveals fresh injury assessment 'is not looking very positive' for Arsenal star 

Arteta gives a disappointing update on Gunners midfielder.
Arteta gives a disappointing update on Gunners midfielder.

Arsenal will face Southampton in the Premier League at the St. Mary's Stadium on Saturday. The Gunners have lost momentum in their push to secure a top-four finish after losing to Crystal Palace and Brighton in their last two fixtures.

The task at hand has started to look more daunting after recent injuries to first-team stars Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey. Both players have joined Takehiro Tomiyasu on the sidelines, who suffered a calf injury in January.

While addressing the press ahead of Saturday's game, manager Mikel Arteta provided a crucial update on midfielder Thomas Partey. He said, as reported by Football London:

"The news that we got after another assessment is not looking very positive for his availability this season. At the moment, we’re not very optimistic."

The 28-year-old is, undoubtedly, the best midfielder in the Gunners' squad and his potential absence for the remainder of the season is a big blow. The Ghana international's partnership with Granit Xhaka has given a strong foundation to Arsenal's attacking transitions.

Arsenal have won 9 from 11 matches (82% win rate) since December in the Premier League in which Martin Ødegaard, Thomas Partey & Granit Xhaka have started together. [MNF] #afc https://t.co/40zEWhULeM

In Partey's absence, the balance of the team has also been shaken. Arteta has tried to use Xhaka in the left-back position, which has seen the team suffer in the middle of the park.

Additionally, another senior player who could miss the Southampton tie is captain Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman has been starved of goals this season and has recently been unable to help with assists or playmaking. Lacazette did not train with the Arsenal squad in the build-up to their game against the Saints.

When Arteta was quizzed about his captain's availability, he said:

"There are private reasons that I can’t comment on but I have no other team news apart from the guys we discussed. We will see if he’s available. It’s a good possibility that that’s the case."

Arsenal have lost ground in the race to the top-four to local rivals Tottenham Hotspur

While the Gunners faltered in their last two games in the Premier League by losing to Crystal Palace and Brighton, Antonio Conte's side have thrived. The Lilywhites have registered emphatic victories in their last four games, which has also seen them improve their goal difference.

Tottenham have scored an aggregate of 14 goals across those four matches and have only conceded two. Courtesy of this great run, they are currently in fourth position, three points clear of Arsenal, who sit in fifth. Mikel Arteta's side do have a game in hand but their fixture list is rather complicated.

🗣 "There's going to be some twists still for sure" 👀Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta discusses their top four race ahead of their game against Southampton tomorrow... https://t.co/gt4esiuBlE

The Gunners will have to deal with tricky fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs in their eight remaining games.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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