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Premier League | Gameweek 34
Apr 20, 2024 at 7.30pm UK
Molineux Stadium
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"It is too soon" - Mikel Arteta confirms Arsenal man will miss Wolves clash

© Reuters
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta confirms that Saturday's Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers will come too soon for Jurrien Timber to return from an ACL injury.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Saturday's Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers will come too soon for Jurrien Timber to make his comeback.

The former Ajax man has now spent over eight months in the Emirates infirmary, having sustained an ACL injury on the opening weekend of the top-flight campaign in August.

Since that fateful day, Timber has been consistently making positive steps in his recovery without any setbacks, and he has now progressed to the point where he can train with the first team.

Arteta has always affirmed that he is optimistic about Timber's chances of coming back before the campaign is over, and he was included in Arsenal's squad for the Champions League knockout rounds.

However, the 22-year-old would ultimately fail to return before the Gunners' European campaign came to an end against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, where a 1-0 loss condemned Arteta's men to quarter-final heartbreak.

Arsenal's Jurrien Timber comes off injured on August 12, 2023© Reuters

Timber to step up recovery in Under-21s fixture

Nevertheless, Timber is still on course to feature before the end of the season, but Arteta - speaking in Friday's pre-game press conference - conceded that it will not be at Molineux this weekend.

However, the Netherlands international - who is looking "really good" in practice - will take part in an Under-21s game at an unspecified date, with Arteta saying: "It is too soon.

"He's going to play a game with the under-21s and after that we will see better where he is, how he felt. He looks really good in training but it's that last step now. We need to have the certainty that he's ready to go."

Timber remains the only player in the Arsenal infirmary after Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard shook off knocks to feature against Bayern, as Arteta confirmed that the rest of his troops are available for the trip to the West Midlands.

Arsenal will go back to the top of the Premier League table with maximum points this weekend due to Manchester City's commitments in the FA Cup, which will not feature replays from the first round onwards next year as part of a revamped tournament.

Arteta defends controversial changes to FA Cup

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta celebrates with the FA Cup in August 2020© Reuters

The decision was taken between the FA and Premier League to scrap rematches in the wake of the new Champions League format and expanded FIFA Club World Cup, which will feature 32 teams in 2025.

On Friday, the EFL released a strongly-worded statement condemning the decision, which could severely harm financial offerings for lower-league clubs, stating that the FA only discussed the abolition of replays with the Premier League.

However, Arteta has defended the governing body's decision, claiming that the calendar is already unrelenting enough, adding: "We cannot only look at that in an isolated way but with the calendar that we have in the next few seasons, obviously we have to think with the amount for the players it's a very good possibility.

"I understand every point of view. Mine is to protect our players and the amount of minutes and games they've played in the last two season is not great. If they have to play that much in the next two years it's not healthy for sure, so somewhere we have to reduce the calendar."

Arteta won Arsenal's record-extending 14th FA Cup in his first half-season in charge during the 2019-20 campaign, but the Gunners have since failed to progress past the fourth round of the tournament.

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