Mikel Arteta ruled out of Arsenal opener against Aston Villa and could face six weeks out with thigh injury

Midfielder suffered a tear to his quadricep and adds to Arsene Wenger's increasing injury woes with just four fit defenders

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The Independent Football

Mikel Arteta will miss Arsenal’s opening game of the season and could also be ruled out for up to six weeks after it was revealed he has suffered a thigh injury on the eve of the new Premier League season.

The midfielder was due to lead out the Gunners in their opening fixture against Aston Villa in the absence of club captain Thomas Vermaelen, but a tear to his quadricep means German defender Per Mertesacker will take the armband as manager Arsene Wenger looks to cope with the lack of fit players he has at his disposal.

Wenger said Arteta would undergo a scan on Thursday to assess the extent of the injury, but hopes of a small strain were soon extinguished after it showed a tear in the muscle.

An injury of that type should rule him out for at least a month, and comes as a double blow with the news that transfer target Luiz Gustavo has agreed to join Wolfsburg, meaning the north London club will start the campaign without a recognised holding midfielder and just four fit defenders.

In Wenger’s pre-match press conference earlier today, he confirmed that his squad is looking quite bare at the moment, and identified the need to bring in players to strengthen the team.

Wenger said: “Vermaelen is out. Monreal is out. Arteta will be out. Monreal will return soon - the others are a bit longer.

“I don't know [how long Arteta will be out for],” he went on to admit after being pressed on the injury news.

Bacary Sagna is also facing a race to be fit for tomorrow’s match, although the progress of right-back Carl Jenkinson last season will have fans a little more relaxed over the defensive crisis than in the past few seasons.

Arteta had previously told The Sun that the squad last year wasn’t good enough to match their ambition, and would require strengthening before the new season – something they have so far failed to do.

“Last year, this squad wasn't wasn't good enough to challenge for the league,” Arteta said.

“We suffered a lot of injuries in the last few years and couldn't always put out a consistent team for 10 or 15 games in a row.

“I am convinced there will be signings this summer. We already have a very strong team - and if we get new faces they will be welcome.”