Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta dealt further blow ahead of Man City showdown

Norwich City v Arsenal: Pictures

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been dealt another blow after a number of the Spaniard’s backroom colleagues tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the Gunners New Year’s Day clash with Manchester City.

It was revealed earlier in the week that Arteta was set to miss the meeting with his old club after he tested positive for Covid.

But it’s now beginning to look as though Arsenal’s dugout will be scarcely populated for the visit of the reigning Premier League champions.

According to The Telegraph, the Londoners have been hit hard by the latest outbreak of positive cases and a number of Arteta’s backroom contingent could be missing on Saturday.

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Albert Stuivenberg, one of Arteta’s assistants, took training on Wednesday and is expected to lead the Gunners in Arteta’s absence.

Another of Arteta’s assistants, Steve Round, missed Arsenal’s thumping 5-0 win over Norwich on Boxing Day.

Although the Gunners backroom staff have been hit in the latest outbreak, it’s believed that the playing squad have been emerged relatively unscathed. Only a handful of players, including Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Takehiro Tomiyasu have been forced to miss the Gunners’ festive fixtures.

But it’s the absence of Arteta that could hit Arsenal hardest when they try to negotiate Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City team.

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City destroyed Arsenal 5-0 in the reverse fixture back in August; a result that piled the pressure on Arteta, who oversaw an abysmal start to the season.

Arsenal have rallied since then and have fought back impressively to put themselves firmly in the race for a top-four spot.

But the Gunners have still been found wanting in big matches.

A strong run of form was mercilessly ended by Liverpool in a 4-0 drubbing at Anfield last month and Arteta’s side still look a long way off the standard of the three teams above in the Premier League.

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Halting that run against City – who have won 10 straight games – was a tough enough ask without factoring in the loss of Arteta.

Arteta previously contracted Covid back in March 2020 just before the Premier League season was halted.

One other absentee for Arsenal’s clash with City is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gunners skipper hasn’t featured for the club since he was punished for a disciplinary breach.

Aubameyang, who has been snubbed for the past five matches, has been given the green light to head to Dubai to link up with Gabon to begin preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off in Cameroon next month.

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