Shkodran Mustafi is set to miss the FA Cup final in a huge injury blow for Arsenal.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admitted he “doubts” whether Mustafi will be fit in time after his hamstring injury suffered in the semi final to face Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday week.
That is a major setback for Arsenal and also for Mustafi whose turnaround in fortunes under Arteta has been remarkable to looking like he was on his way out to now being a first choice centre half.
“The rest is true that Musti is injured and we need to assess a little bit how long he is out,” said Arteta who was then asked whether he would be fit for the final.
“I doubt it. I don't know. We have to see how he evolves in the next few days. At the moment, I doubt it.”
Arteta spoke from the heart as he admitted that even if they win the FA Cup and finish eighth – now the best case scenario – it would not be good enough for the club.
Arteta said: “For me, this club deserves the best and you have to be fighting for every title. Obviously after everything that happened, if we are able to win the final and qualify for Europe, we can say that it's OK.
"But it's not the level for this football club.
Arteta said: “We haven't been consistent. Because we obviously had a lot of issues as well in the background, a lot of things that had happened. But at the end of the day, we weren't good enough to be with the top teams.
“That's not a lie and it shows the big room for improvement and the gap that is still there and has to be minimised really, really quickly in order to be in a good position to challenge those teams.
“It hurts so much. When I said it's a beautiful challenge, and as well from my side, it's to bring the club into those positions again.
“I know how difficult it's going to be because you can see the other teams, what they're doing, what they've been doing the last few seasons.
"The road and the direction we have to take in order to be quick in that transition… I'm very positive that we're going to be able to do it.”
Arsenal’s final day showdown with Watford is already being painted as “the battle of the cojones” after Troy Deeney’s jibe following a defeat at Vicarage Road two seasons ago.
But Arteta hinted that Arsenal were only upset by the remark because it was actually too close to the bone.
Arteta added: “I think revenge or when you are annoyed and when you want to put things right is probably because you feel that what has been said is right.
“If you don't feel that it's right or it doesn't justify the way you approach the game or you fight, it doesn't have to affect you. So I think that's a very personal thing.
“I don't know. Every player is free to say whatever they want. I cannot comment on every opinion.”
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