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Mikel Arteta urges wounded Arsenal to 'embrace the challenge' of top four battle with Tottenham

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Mikel Arteta urges his ‘hurting’ Arsenal stars to ’embrace’ top four ‘challenge’ following Crystal Palace defeat and injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey… as boss reveals the midfielder will be out for ‘some weeks’

  • Arsenal are looking to bounce back after a humbling 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace 
  • Mikel Arteta challenged his stars to ’embrace the challenge’ for a top four spot 
  • He admits his side are ‘hurting’ as they battle Spurs for the Champions League
  • Arteta has been dealt another blow with Thomas Partey facing a long spell out  

Mikel Arteta has told his players to embrace the challenge after a damaging week in their pursuit of a top four finish.

Arsenal lost some of the initiative in the race for the Champions League when they were emphatically beaten 3-0 at Crystal Palace on Monday.

And that blow was compounded by the loss of two crucial players, with Kieran Tierney suffering a season-ending knee injury and Thomas Partey a thigh problem that will keep him out for ‘some weeks.’

Mikel Arteta urged his Arsenal stars to'embrace the challenge' of their top four battle

Mikel Arteta urged his Arsenal stars to ’embrace the challenge’ of their top four battle 

The Gunners were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace on Monday in a dent to their aspirations

The Gunners were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace on Monday in a dent to their aspirations 

Arsenal – fifth in the table, level on 54 points with Tottenham but with a game in hand – return to action against Brighton tomorrow, the first of nine games they have remaining this season.

Asked about the potential impact of a costly period, Arteta said: ‘Embrace the challenge. You lost and now you want to win. It’s hurting and it’s still hurting. 

‘We’ve lost two big players, really important players for us in the team for sure but we are not going to have them so we cannot be crying for that because they are not going to be available for us so we have to find other solutions and we have to still be as good and as competitive as we have been. 

‘Monday is gone. We have to react now and show tomorrow the energy and commitment that we want to play this game tomorrow with our fans. We have to play better and we have to compete much better than we did in the first half.’

Arsenal face a tricky battle with in-form Tottenham for a Champions League place this season

Arsenal face a tricky battle with in-form Tottenham for a Champions League place this season

Tierney returned from international duty with a knee problem that has ultimately required surgery on Thursday, which the Scottish left-back confirmed went well.

Arteta said: ‘Our responsibility is to look after them when we have them here. Once they go to the national team in this case it’s the job and responsibility of Steve Clarke to decide the team he believes is best to win the games and we have to try to have good communications with national teams which we have but these things happen.’

Scotland have a World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine in June and potential final against Wales.

Arteta added: ‘I don’t know [if he can play in those] he just had surgery yesterday so it’s very early to understand how everything is going to develop [if] he is going to be out for the period we estimate or not and which condition he will be in after that period I think it’s too soon to be able to say something like that.

‘The player has to do the maximum that he can to be in the best possible condition as quick as possible and I’m sure Kieran will do that and once he is there let’s see if he’s able to complete and with what kind of risk or not but I’m sure he will do that.’

Another blow for Arsenal is the loss of Thomas Partey to a thigh injury

Kieran Tierney will miss the rest of the season too

Another blow for Arsenal is the loss of Thomas Partey (L) and Kieran Tierney (R) to injuries

The Spaniard admitted he was unsure how long he would be without Partey after he picked up a ‘significant’ thigh injury.  

‘It is a little bit ambiguous but he has a significant injury,’ he added. ‘He will be out for some weeks. He could be [back before the season ends] but it could not be the case as it’s an area where he had an injury previously and he felt it straightaway.’

The loss to Crystal Palace was a miserable day all round for the Gunners – not least for left-back Nuno Tavares, who was hooked at half time at Selhurst Park on Monday night having endured a torrid evening. 

His poor challenge at a free kick allowed Joachim Anderson to set-up Jean-Philippe Mateta to score the opening goal, while he was caught out with a weak attempt at an interception before Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 – with Arteta replacing him with Gabriel Martinelli at the interval. 

Arteta backed Nuno Tavares to bounce back after being hauled off at half time at Palace

Arteta backed Nuno Tavares to bounce back after being hauled off at half time at Palace 

But Arteta backed Tavares to bounce back, saying the player was ‘ready and willing’ to respond in the coming games, as he revealed he had spoken to the full-back and that he understands his decision. 

‘Throughout your career you have to go through difficult moments,’ he continued. ‘He had a good period when he arrived at the club and played more minutes than he was expecting

‘He’s ready and he’ s willing. He will be disappointed. There is nothing personal there

‘I spoke with Nuno because I care a lot how they feel. That was a decision that hurt him but he understands that I felt it was for the benefit of the team. He respects that and now he needs to react.’ 

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