Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has admitted that he does not know how long on-loan Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard will be out for.
Odegaard, who joined the Gunners in January from Los Blancos on a six-month loan deal, was absent for the 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague in the Europa League.
Emile Smith Rowe, the Norway international’s replacement in the starting XI, had a poor game as he struggled to influence the match.
Indeed, it was a thoroughly disappointing evening for Arsenal, as they contrived to throw away a lead that they were given in the 86th minute by substitute Nicolas Pepe. The concession of a late goal from a corner leaves them vulnerable ahead of the second leg in the Czech Republic next week.
Worse, Odegaard is poised to miss that fixture, according to Arteta.
When asked how long the Real Madrid man might be out for, the Arsenal manager replied: “We don’t know. He wasn’t able to play today and I think he will be out for the next game or two. But we just don’t know yet.”
Although Odegaard has performed strongly for Arsenal, with no purchase option in the loan deal, they face an uphill battle to sign him permanently.
Arteta on Slavia Prague draw
Arteta, meanwhile, was defensive of his players and the outcome of the match.
“I think the players stepped in and they gave absolutely everything. We managed that really well in certain moments we were much more aggressive today and we created some big chances,” he said before responding to suggestions that his side lost concentration in the closing stages.
“I don’t think they switched off. I think they made a bad decision playing the ball into an area where we got trapped. From there we conceded the corner.”
Lying 10th in the Premier League, Arsenal’s focus must be on the Europa League, and so the potential absence of Odegaard next week could weight heavily on them.