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Thomas Partey’s injury problems since joining Arsenal have taken a toll on the midfielder, according to manager Mikel Arteta.

Partey joined the Gunners for £45million from Atletico Madrid in October and appeared a perfect answer to a problem position in the midfield engine room.

However, a hip issue meant he was restricted to four Premier League starts before the turn of the year and was forced off at half-time during the latter of those.

He returned to start in five consecutive league matches from mid-January onwards but the 27-year-old Ghana international sustained a hamstring injury during last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta conceded Partey’s latest setback is more serious than first anticipated.

“It is a difficult one, he felt something during the game and we didn’t think it was too bad but after the scan looked a little bit worse,” he said.

“He won’t be available to play against Leeds and we will see how it evolves in the next two days, but it is a muscular issue.

“He was devastated, we were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas and we haven’t had him since we signed him.

“I think he has only played 90 minutes once since he has come back from injury, so it is a big blow for us.

“But he is adapting to the league, he has been very unlucky as well and he is very frustrated because he is a very competitive guy who wants to feel important and be important for the team.

“At the moment the injuries are restricting a lot of game time for him.”

Kieran Tierney is also out of the Leeds match, but the Scotland defender at least has light at the end of the tunnel following a knee sprain and is expected back in training next week.

“We have to see how the knee reacts when he starts to get a bit more load,” Arteta explained.

“He hasn’t had much left but he is very positive at the moment, he is in good spirits and he is desperate to get back in the team and we will see in the next few days.

“The moment he starts to train with the team [we will] see how he is feeling and how he reacts.”

Nicolas Pepe was sent off when the sides drew 0-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season but the club-record signing has had a better time of things lately, scoring in each of the recent trips to Southampton and Wolves.

“Again, he can maintain that level now for months, not weeks,” Arteta said, although he feels the improvement by the former Lille winger is clear to see.

“I think there has been a click with him, even in his mentality, how he’s approaching every training session, the importance of every action in the game and how he can sustain his focus and his determination during games.

“I really like his attitude. What he’s done in the last few weeks I think it’s been much better.

“He still has a lot of room to improve and grow and he’s willing to do that so I’m expecting him to go to the next level very soon.”


Photo: Gettyimages

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