Arteta dealt huge title blow as Ornstein confirms two crucial Arsenal starters are ‘out for the season’

Jason Soutar
Arsenal duo William Saliba and Thomas Partey gesture during a match against Bournemouth

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be without Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba until next season, David Ornstein has revealed.

Zinchenko joined the Gunners from Manchester City for £30million plus £2m in add-ons last summer.

He has had a terrific maiden campaign at the Emirates, slotting into Arteta’s inverted left-back role to help contribute as an extra midfielder, while being positioned in a back four when out of possession.

Saliba, on the other hand, was signed by Unai Emery back in 2019 but did not make his competitive debut for the club until this season.

Arteta was not sure if the French international was ready for the Premier League and a loan spell with Marseille last term did him the world of good.

He returned a lot more mature than he was a year earlier and has barely put a foot wrong in what has been an amazing debut season in England.

READ MORE: Arsenal: Mikel Arteta’s top ten decisions as manager includes convincing Granit Xhaka to stay

Saliba has not played since injuring his back against Sporting in Arsenal’s Europa League defeat on March 16.

His absence has been very noticeable with Arteta’s men shipping in more goals than usual. Rob Holding stepped in for the 22-year-old, which has negatively impacted how Arsenal play out from the back and obviously how they defend.

Jakub Kiwior came in for Holding against Chelsea last Tuesday and was rewarded for his comfortable showing with a start at Newcastle United last Sunday.

Zinchenko came off against Newcastle in what appeared to be a tactical tweak, but it has been confirmed by The Athletic’s David Ornstein that both defenders are out until the end of the season.

The report states that Zinchenko had a calf issue which forced him off at St James’ Park.

Thankfully for the Gunners, neither player is expected to require surgery, Ornstein says.

Kiwior should keep his place in the starting XI, while Arteta has a very stellar replacement for Zinchenko in Scotland international Kieran Tierney.

Arsenal’s next match is against Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday.

The Gunners will have to be perfect between now and the end of the season if they are to have any chance of winning their first league title in 19 years.

They currently trail reigning champions Manchester City by a single point, though Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.

After the match against Brighton, Arsenal face Nottingham Forest away and host Wolves on the final day of the season.

The Londoners will hope City’s hectic schedule can hinder their bid to win their third Premier League title in a row.

The Citizens drew 1-1 against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday and face relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon before hosting Los Blancos.

After their trip to Merseyside, City will face Chelsea at home, Brighton away, and Brentford away, in what is a tricker schedule than Arsenal’s.

Despite the fact City are the strong favourites for the title, the injuries to Zinchenko and Saliba have done the Gunners no favours whatsoever.