Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is expected to be out until October after undergoing surgery on his hamstring but there is positive news of Bernd Leno and Hector Bellerin ahead of the FA Cup final.

Mustafi had a minor operation on Saturday following damage done in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City.

The centre-back will miss the start of next season as he recovers from the procedure and will be a spectator when the Gunners attempt to beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday to secure a Europa League spot.

Mustafi missed the FA Cup final against the same opponents three years ago due to concussion but is taking a positive outlook despite his latest setback.

"Missing out the @EmiratesFACup final for the second time. The good news is that the surgery went well and that I am not the type of guy who gives up easily," he tweeted.

"After the disappointment I accepted the situation and I am now focused to recover to be back on the pitch."

Goalkeeper Leno suffered a ligament sprain in his right knee following a challenge from Brighton and Hove Albion forward Neal Maupay last month and is aiming to be back in full training next week.

Bellerin was not risked for a 3-2 victory over Watford on the final day of the Premier League season last Sunday due to a calf problem, but the full-back is back in contention.

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will need to strengthen in central defence after revealing Shkodran Mustafi will miss the start of next season through injury.

Mustafi damaged his hamstring in last weekend's FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City and was initially considered doubtful for next week's final against Chelsea.

Arteta confirmed the full extent of the injury following Sunday's 3-2 win against Watford, however, with the Germany international ruled out for weeks rather than days.

Asked if Mustafi will miss the start of next season, which is due to begin on September 12, Arteta told reporters: "Yes, he will. 

"It is a nasty one. He pulled the tendon of the bone of his hamstring and that's normally a lot of weeks."

Arsenal have also had to make do without fellow centre-backs Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari due to long-term injuries, with both players in a race to be fit before the end of the year.

And despite the arrival of William Saliba from Saint-Etienne, Arteta understands the need to bring in another player during the close-season.

"I already mentioned to you three central defenders that are not available and we haven't had them available for a long time anyway during this season," he said. "We will have to address that."

After concluding a disappointing Premier League campaign with three points against Watford - a result that relegated their opponents - Arsenal's focus now turns to their cup final showdown with Chelsea next Saturday.

Arteta has some big selection calls to make but has already decided Emiliano Martinez will start in goal, despite Bernd Leno's return to training this week following a month-long absence.

"Emi has earned his place with another brilliant performance again today," he said. "When the team needed him he made some fantastic saves.

"Bernd is still recovering from his injuries so Emi's the one now. Let's hope that he's available for the game and if that's the case he will start the final."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired Arsenal to their victory over Watford with a couple of first-half strikes, either side of Kieran Tierney's first goal for the club.

Troy Deeney and Danny Welbeck pulled a couple of goals back for the visitors to set up a nervy finish, but Arteta is expecting a different type of performance against Chelsea.

"It was a crazy game right from the start," he said. "We allowed them too many balls in the box - this is where they're really dangerous. 

"They had some really good quality moments with the ball in the final third but we weren't at the races without the ball like we've been doing in the last few games.

"But it will be a completely different game next week. First of all from the mental side it will be equal - how much they want it and how much we want it. 

"I don't think that was the case today because of the necessity they had, the way they had to go to the game was different to ours.

"Normally you can see that when you don't have the ball. Hopefully it will be different."

Shkodran Mustafi is an injury doubt for the FA Cup final, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has confirmed.

Arsenal progressed to the final with a 2-0 victory over holders Manchester City at Wembley last weekend, although they lost defender Mustafi to a hamstring injury late on.

The Germany international missed Tuesday's defeat to Aston Villa and will also be unavailable for Arsenal's final Premier League game of the season against Watford on Sunday.

And Arteta has conceded he is set to be without the 28-year-old centre-back for the clash with Chelsea on August 1.

"Musti is injured, we need to assess a little bit how long he's going to be out," he told a news conference.

"I doubt [he will be fit for the cup final], we have to see how he evolves in the next few days. At the moment I doubt it."

Mustafi's days at Arsenal appeared to be numbered earlier in the season, but the former Valencia man has enjoyed a resurgence under Arteta.

Arteta also stated both Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil were available for selection, even though the duo's exclusion from first-team affairs is widely expected to continue.

The north London derby cannot be the same game without fans, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, aiming to extend a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Arteta is a veteran of nine north London derbies from his playing days at Emirates Stadium and remembers the encounters with a particular fondness.

"You could sense days before the game that the energy was rising, the expectations – how much it means for the people to defend the badge and the shirt that we are wearing and representing," he said.

"It's a rivalry but a very respectful rivalry and that created a very special atmosphere at the grounds. There wasn't big collisions and hate, but respect and will to win, which is a beautiful thing in sport.

"I was involved in some really good ones, there were a lot of goals and a lot of excitement. The players need to understand how much it means to people. If we win, we are going to make a lot of people happy."

As such, even though he has enjoyed the Premier League's emergence from lockdown, Arteta feels he and Jose Mourinho will tackle an altogether different encounter this weekend.

"It's going to be a completely different game," he said. "We are delighted we are back playing football but it's not the same experience, it's not the same memory and it cannot be the same game.

"The conditions, the context and the feeling that the players are going to have on that pitch is another story."

Arsenal are eighth in the Premier League table, a point and a place above Spurs, who have struggled for convincing form under Mourinho.

Arteta declared his opposite number to still be a "world class" coach and reflected fondly upon their time together at Barcelona in his youth, when Mourinho took charge of B team training sessions.

"He was great. He used to coach us with Barcelona B," he said.

"He had an incredible energy with young players. He was always very supportive and they all liked him."

Shkodran Mustafi appears to have responded with similar enthusiasm to Arteta's methods.

The Germany international was increasingly confined to the margins after a string of error-strewn displays under Unai Emery but he has featured in every Gunners match since the resumption – raising the prospect of a contract extension beyond the end of his current terms in June 2021.

"I'm really happy with him, as you clearly can see. The way he is playing, how committed he is with what we're trying to do, the level that he is showing in his performance every three or four days," Arteta added.

"That [a new contract] is something that the club has to address, but he knows my opinion on that."

Mikel Arteta's arrival as Arsenal boss has benefitted the entire squad, according to Shkodran Mustafi.

The former Gunners midfielder took charge in December 2019 in the wake of a disappointing spell for the club under Unai Emery.

Arsenal were unbeaten in the Premier League this calendar year before the coronavirus pandemic brought fixtures to a halt.

And Mustafi, whose future at the club had looked uncertain under Emery, is loving life under the Spaniard.

"Each one of us has benefitted from this arrival," the Germany international told Arsenal's official website.

"He has brought a very clear identity and a very clear idea of how he wants to play football, but at the same time he gives you space to make your own decisions because you are on the pitch and you know exactly what the coach wants from you.

"I think as well he has been listening into the changing room and listening to the players to find out why things were not working out before. Sometimes we don't realise how difficult it is to be a coach because you have so many people that you have to make follow your idea.

"Sometimes players are happy, sometimes players that don't play are not so happy, so it is not easy to have all on board and all agreeing with your ideas and philosophy.

"But he has managed to do that and in this short period it has been something very difficult to do, but he has done it. That is why we created a bit of momentum and we are heading in the right direction."

Mustafi revealed how, even as an experienced professional, he was able to learn new things from Arteta, who honed his coaching skills as Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City. 

"I have benefitted from his arrival and his coaching," he added. "When you are 28 years old, you think you have heard everything and then a coach comes in and you still learn and hear things that you have never heard before.

"He has been incredible since his arrival. He has shown his aura and his personality just shows that he is so convinced of the way he thinks football should be and how he wants his team to play, and you just agree with it and soak in all the information."

Shkodran Mustafi is not thinking about his Arsenal future and has no problem with the issue moving down the club's priority list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Germany international has just over a year remaining on his Gunners contract and has been back in favour since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery.

At an uncertain time, Mustafi’s focus is on returning to the pitch before "questions" on his career are answered.

"We are in a situation where everyone is worried about the current situation and not so much about their personal future," Mustafi, 27, said to Sky Germany.

"First of all, I would like to play football again. That's how we all feel, we want to get back onto the pitch. There are so many question marks at the moment.

"Euro 2020 has been postponed. There are so many discussions whether we can even finish the season or not.

"So it is difficult to think about my personal future. None of us know what will happen next and when we can play again.

"So once we have overcome this difficult time and are back on the pitch, I can think about questions like that.

"At the moment I don't think about it. Also, the club has more important stuff to deal with right now than my future."

Mustafi had previously spoken positively about Arteta and praised the Arsenal boss' charisma as he began to get more regular appearances alongside David Luiz at the back.

"I can imagine continuing to play for him," he said of Arteta, who has recently recovered from COVID-19. 

"But we still don't know about the future and there are still many question marks."

Mikel Arteta was proud of his young Gunners after Arsenal secured an FA Cup fifth-round spot with a win over Bournemouth.

The visitors, 13-time winners of the competition, secured a 2-1 triumph at the Vitality Stadium with Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah on target before substitute Sam Surridge grabbed a late consolation in an otherwise one-sided tie.

Arsenal's two goalscorers were the standout performers in a youthful line-up on a night when Arteta's defensive options were further depleted by a serious-looking injury for Shkodran Mustafi.

Arteta, while pleased with Monday's display, admitted the club would need to dip into the transfer market to bolster his squad, with a fifth-round trip to Portsmouth added to their schedule. 

"Very pleased. It's always tough to come here and win, we've done it with a young team as well," the Gunners boss told BBC Sport.

"I have a lot of faith in them. I think they are developing really well. They are willing and hungry and will only get better.

"We analyse opponents and try to generate situations that are favourable for our players.

"I was worried with their history in the last few weeks we would concede in the last few minutes.

"Our history with this cup is massive for the club. We need to take it step by step."

On the injury to Mustafi and his hopes to bring in reinforcements, Arteta added: "We will have to assess him but when Mustafi has to come off, normally it is not good.

"We are in the market. We are looking for some things with the resources we have and we will tell you when we have more news."

Opposite number Eddie Howe conceded his side lost the tactical battle and did not work hard enough without the ball to match their visitors.

"There were tactical problems for us," said the Cherries manager. "We changed system a couple of times but we weren't ourselves out of possession.

"We were second in the battles. Against quality teams that is what you have to master."

Shkodran Mustafi concedes he has struggled to handle the pressure of criticism that followed some high-profile mistakes for Arsenal.

Germany international defender Mustafi joined the Gunners from Valencia in 2016 but his form has dwindled over recent campaigns.

This term, the 27-year-old has predominantly been used in the Europa League and EFL Cup, although Calum Chambers being out for the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos joining Nurnberg on loan means he could be granted opportunities to add to a solitary Premier League start.

"I just put my head down when all the criticism came at me and worked hard. I just closed my ears and focused on the work, and I think the fans kind of appreciated that," Mustafi said in an interview with Arsenal's official website. "I just worked my socks off to come back again.

"When the fans are on your side, it gives you so much more confidence. As a defender, it's always difficult because you always have pressure, especially when you don't have the ball and the opponents are attacking. Every little mistake and every little error you make can lead to a goal.

"When you win all your tackles, when you win everything on the pitch but then make one mistake that you're punished for, it destroys everything that you did before. This is something that makes this position so hard.

"You blame yourself a lot. I am quite harsh on myself as well when I make mistakes. This is something you have to learn to deal with because the next day you're straight back in training and you're focusing on not making the same mistake again.

"It's something that affected me but I had to deal with it because I didn't want to make the same mistake again, I wanted to come to the training ground and show them that I am going to be there for them, I am going to be there for the team, I am going to be there for the supporters."

Mustafi felt such scrutiny became harshly magnified by social media.

"On there, it's difficult to handle when things are going well and then when things are not working out it's even tougher," he said.

"When things aren't going well, obviously you don't like the stuff you read. You don't agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult."

Even though he believes criticism directed towards him became too strong at times, Mustafi does not want to be viewed as a scapegoat and feels he and the club have common challenges to address.

"I wouldn't say [I was] a target because it's very hard if you say that. I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world," he said.

"But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame."

He added: "Next for me and the club is to bounce back. At the moment things are not going the way we want them to go.

"We just need to stay united as a team, a club, with our fans. The people who want the best for Arsenal, we have to stay united together and bounce back together."

Mino Raiola holds all the cards when it comes to Manchester United's transfer plans.

United are interested in Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland, while Paul Pogba wants to reportedly leave Old Trafford.

With that in mind, the Red Devils may be forced to pick between the two.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND IN, POGBA OUT?

Manchester United are worried signing Salzburg striker Erling Haaland may force Paul Pogba out of the club, according to the Daily Star. 

United are interest in-demand sensation Haaland, who has also been linked to Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig

Haaland is represented by Mino Raiola, who is also the agent of United star Pogba – previously linked to former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

United fear Raiola could throw a spanner in the works as doubts remain over Pogba's future in Manchester.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Manchester City have identified Villarreal's Pau Torres and Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias as possible defensive reinforcements in January, reports The Telegraph.

- Express Sport says Chelsea are unwilling to meet Dortmund's £100million (€117m) valuation of star Jadon Sancho, who has also been linked to United, Liverpool and Madrid. Chelsea are believed to be keeping tabs on Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

Arsenal pair Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi could leave Arsenal in January, reports Football London. Turkish giants Fenerbahce have emerged as a possible destination for Ozil.

Rangers have made contact with out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud over a possible move to Glasgow, according to L'Equipe.  Coming off contract at the end of the season, Giroud has also been linked to Inter.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery says Dani Ceballos has what looks like a "small" hamstring injury sustained in the Europa League draw with Vitoria SC.

The midfielder initially pulled up early in the second half of the 1-1 result in Guimaraes and was replaced by Matteo Guendouzi 54 minutes in.

The Real Madrid loanee appears likely to miss at least Saturday's Premier League trip to Leicester City, although Emery says he will have further tests on Thursday.

"We are going to wait for the analysis tomorrow but, at the beginning, I think it’s a small injury," Emery told a news conference.

Arsenal had looked set to claim a win that would have guaranteed their place in the next round when Shkodran Mustafi headed in Nicolas Pepe's free-kick in the 80th minute.

However, Bruno Duarte equalised in injury time and the Gunners came close to a defeat in the closing moments, with Mustafi deflecting a cross onto the post and Rochinha sending a volley narrowly wide.

Emery was happy with his players' efforts in torrential rain, even though Mustafi's header was Arsenal's only shot on target.

"The players worked and tried and we were very close to winning. In the last minute, they pushed a lot and they scored," he said to BT Sport.

"The objective is to be first in the group and we are. At the end of the match, we're thinking about Saturday and Leicester.

"We tried [to score] but also they are a very competitive team. We did better defensively. Offensively, this team are very organised and it's not easy to have a lot of chances. It's not good because we want to win but we are first, and this is our target."

Mustafi felt the Gunners could have defended better to prevent Vitoria equalising but the centre-back is content to have taken a point that moves them closer to reaching the next round.

"I would love to score in the 90th minute. When you score a goal and you still have to play against a team like today, they threw everything up front, sometimes it's not organised any more and they throw a lot of bodies into the box and they keep crossing," he said.

"I think we could have dealt with [the danger] a little bit earlier, instead of letting them cross again. In the end, you have to accept it and move forward and take the positive things.

"You have to say they are a good side, they're in the Europa League for a reason, they're quite compact. We played today with a back three and we needed some time to get the rhythm in. In the first half, we didn't do it as we wanted; the second half was better, better rhythm, better passing.

"We just need to stay calm. Everyone wants to show and give everything and sometimes, when you're over-motivated, it's difficult to deal with that. At the end of the day, we need to stay calm, play our football, believe in ourselves and then in the final third try and do it a little more intelligently, with a little more accuracy in our final pass."

An injury-time equaliser from Bruno Duarte sealed a 1-1 draw for Vitoria SC against Arsenal on Tuesday and stopped the Gunners from qualifying for the last 32 of the Europa League.

The visitors looked set to claim a win that would have guaranteed their place in the knockouts when Shkodran Mustafi headed in Nicolas Pepe's free-kick 10 minutes from time.

However, Duarte's acrobatic finish denied Unai Emery's side from a fourth win in as many European games this season and means they must wait a little longer to secure a place in the next round.

It was nearly much worse for Arsenal, who saw Mustafi deflect a cross onto the post before Rochinha rifled a half-volley wide in the closing moments of a rain-soaked encounter in Guimaraes.

 

Arsenal twice squandered the lead as they were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Liverpool on penalties after a remarkable 5-5 draw at Anfield.

Under-pressure Gunners boss Unai Emery needed a positive result to lift the gloom around Arsenal after they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace, but Jurgen Klopp's irrepressible young Reds prevailed.

Shkodran Mustafi's own goal and James Milner's penalty bookended a Lucas Torreira strike and Gabriel Martinelli's double in a first half characterised by defensive errors and gung-ho attacking.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles extended Arsenal's 3-2 interval lead before strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi levelled the contest, only for Joe Willock to put Arsenal back in front with a wonderful solo effort 20 minutes from time.

But Origi penetrated Arsenal's porous defence again to take the game to penalties, and Dani Ceballos had his spot-kick saved as Liverpool clinched a place in the quarter-finals at the expense of their beleaguered visitors.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.