Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that midfielder Granit Xhaka is on course to return from his knee injury sooner than planned and could be back on the pitch before the new year.
The 29-year-old has not made an appearance since the Gunners’ 3-1 win against Spurs back in September, a match that saw Xhaka pick up the ligament injury, one that was expected to rule him out until January.
Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga have since been tasked with bossing the midfield area, and the duo have performed admirably, but there has been a sense that Xhaka’s experience has been missing of late.
This was most apparent last weekend as Liverpool cut through the Gunners with ease, winning 4-0 at Anfield to move further ahead of their ‘big six’ opponents.
“Hopefully sooner than expected, he’s in a good place,” Arteta said on Xhaka’s progress during his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Newcastle.
“He’s training and pushing himself and all the staff so hard like he always does and he’s in a good place. He’s evolving well and hopefully, we can have him a little bit earlier.”
Arteta was then asked whether Xhaka would be available over the Christmas period, saying: “I hope so, yes.”
He also revealed that no new injuries had been picked up since the Liverpool clash: “No news, everyone is fine so far.”
All eyes will be on the Emirates at 12:30pm on Saturday to see how the Gunners bounce back from the heavy defeat, with Newcastle also hungry for their first win of the season.