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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has played down the likelihood of Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney featuring against Benfica and Manchester City this coming week, though says the left-back has a slim chance.
The Gunners were without the duo in their 4-2 victory over Leeds United on Sunday, with Partey picking up a hamstring injury and Tierney having missed the last five Premier League matches.
Both players are working hard to return to action as soon as possible ahead of some massive fixtures for Arsenal, who resume their Europa League campaign on Thursday before taking on the Premier League leaders.
Tierney and Partey are both hugely important to Arsenal and their return would be a massive boost, though Arteta suspects the games could come too soon for the pair – though Tierney is the closer of the two to returning.
Asked whether there is a chance Partey or Tierney could be available this week, Arteta replied: ‘It seems unlikely at the moment. ‘But probably if there is one player who has got a bigger chance, it’s Kieran, because probably in the next few days he can start to do some parts with the team.
‘But I don’t know how it is going to evolve when he gets a little bit closer to training with the group.’ Arsenal have often struggled for goals and creativity this season but netted four times against Leeds – their biggest haul at the Emirates this season – and Arteta was happy with what he saw from his team going forward.
Asked about the side’s creativity, the Spanish coach said: ‘I thought it was much better. We were much more efficient and we were much more composed.
‘We took our time when it was needed, we faked movement, we had runs in behind and we had people in the box and people arriving into the box.
‘Our decision-making was much better and then the efficiency when we were hitting the last shot, many of those were on target and that’s the difference when you want to score goals.’