Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has provided a fitness update on defender Pablo Mari ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard has been working on his fitness since signing for the club more than two weeks ago but he may have to wait for a little longer before being handed with his debut.
Earlier this month, Arteta said that Mari will need to be managed carefully and he has now revealed that the centre-back won’t be in contention for the Magpies game this weekend.
The 37-year-old added that the defender has not seen competitive action since the FIFA Club World Cup final in December but hinted that he could be involved in the Europa League round of 32 clash at Olympiacos.
“Pablo has not competed since the end of December I think, he had a little issue, but he has been training with us the last week or so, in and out a little bit, but he has been looking good. I think this game will come a little bit too early for him but I expect him to start joining the squad in the next week or so,” he told in a press conference.
Arsenal’s Champions League push has been boosted with the two-year ban for Manchester City from European competitions. As such, they can realistically qualify for the elite competition next season with a minimum of a fifth-place finish in the league.
Of course, things could change, should the Cityzens win their CAS appeal against the ban, but for now, Arteta’s side have been offered with the chance of sealing a Champions League berth by finishing just outside of the top four.
The Gunners are currently 10 and eight points behind Chelsea and Sheffield United respectively in the race for the fourth and fifth positions. The fans will be hoping that the club can build a winning league streak as the next three games against Newcastle, Everton and West Ham United are at the Emirates Stadium.