Injuries only obstacle for Arsenal says Mikel Arteta

 

Midfielder Mikel Arteta would love to see what a fully-fit Arsenal squad could achieve.

The Gunners head into their final eight Barclays Premier League matches having rediscovered their form and put together seven straight wins which have lifted them above Tottenham into third place.

While captain Robin van Persie has enjoyed a largely injury-free campaign to score 33 goals, manager Arsene Wenger has not been able to call upon England midfielder Jack Wilshere all season because of a niggling ankle problem, while several other key men, including defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, have all spent a frustrating time in the London Colney treatment room.

Arteta, who has started 25 Premier League games, feels with everyone firing on all cylinders, Arsenal would be more than a match for any side.

"We have been hit with important, long-term injuries the whole season that really, really affect the team," Arteta said in Sport Magazine.

"I would like to see this team playing with the same XI for 10-15 games - then we could talk about if we were good enough or not.

"Now we are starting to do it and we are starting to get really good results, so for me the biggest concern is to stop the injuries."

Arsenal are understood to have now agreed the formalities of an £11million deal to bring in Germany striker Lukas Podolski from Cologne, but a public announcement has been delayed at the request of the Bundesliga club, who are fighting against relegation.

Wenger is expected to further bolster the playing staff over the summer, but Arteta feels Arsenal already have enough within the group, if they could only all stay fit.

The Spaniard, 30, added: "Obviously if you spend a lot of money to bring in top players you have a better chance because you have a bigger squad and you can change the team around but, for me, a key thing with our squad is the injuries."

Arsenal are hopeful centre-half Laurent Koscielny will be available at QPR tomorrow having pulled out of the Aston Villa game last weekend during the warm-up with a knee problem.

With their lead over Spurs only three points, Wenger accepts there can be little room for complacency.

"This is the period where what we do matters the most, so we just want to keep our focus on this and not worry about anybody else's results," the Arsenal manager said.

"We have shown both footballing and mental qualities in recent weeks and now we need to continue our development."

Wenger, meanwhile, could be handed a European touchline ban should UEFA announce the decision to their disciplinary case following a confrontation with referee Damir Skomina in the wake of Arsenal's Champions League exit against AC Milan last month, which came despite a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium.

PA

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