MIKEL ARTETA says Granit Xhaka is lucky he only faces three months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The Arsenal midfielder suffered ligament damage in a freak collision with Lucas Moura during the club’s 3-1 North London derby win on Sunday.
But Gunners boss Arteta claims the way the Switzerland star’s leg crumbled under the weight of Tottenham winger Moura’s body suggested the damage could have been worse.
Arteta said: “It's obviously a significant injury but he probably escaped an even worse injury than he could have had from the action because that action for the cruciate ligament is a tricky one.
"It's what it is. His mentality is top. He knows what he needs to do now. Hopefully, he can escape surgery as well.
"That is something that is really, really important and after that start preparing himself in the best possible way because time flies."
He also remarked: “Obviously, it's really bad news personally for Granit.
"He's had a couple of incidents already this season with Covid, with suspension and now with long-term injury.
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"He's a strong man and he will use this time to focus on other things and I'm sure he will be back in the right place when he's back.
"Obviously, he's a big player for us, someone who is really important, and he will be missed. Other players have to step in."
It had been thought that Albert Sambi Lokonga would come in and replace him in the line-up, but Arteta has revealed Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be handed a chance.
The academy graduate saw a move away from the Emirates fall through in August, however he has featured in all six of the club's last matches in all competitions.
Speaking of the ex-West Brom loanee, Arteta stated: "Ainsley is certainly one of the options.
"We have used him quite a lot since the start of the season, he is doing really well and I am pleased with what I have seen from him."
Arteta also commented on the No1 spot between Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno with the England international starting the last three Premier League games.
He said: "Everybody has to raise the level and that's really positive and is happening in different positions. You can see when players are coming in now, they are fully ready to take the place.
"Now it's going to happen with Granit and before it happened when he was suspended, and it's happened in other positions.
"Players are coming up and showing that they are ready because the way they train and the way they play is top so after they get rewarded when they have the minutes."
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